Collaborative power

Welcome to the fourth part of Empowering in the TRUE Leaders Programme. Below you will find the video, audio and a transcript as well as a link to the worksheet. 

Worksheet (to download)

Video transcript

Hello, and welcome back to the empowering section of the TRUE Leaders Programme. Today we are going to focus on collaborative power. This is something that I first came across, thanks to Brené Brown. I would highly recommend, by the way, an incredible, incredibly inspiring researcher into so many relevant areas. But one of which is around power. Whether you give your power to other people unknowingly, perhaps in a way that it does not feel appropriate. Whether you sometimes take power away from people, and how you do that, and how you might want to do things differently? One of her big areas of research is around collaborative power. When she works with organisations, she talks a lot about collaborative power.

So what does that actually mean in reality? So collaborative power is moving from a traditional sense of certain people having power over other people, and actually giving power to more people. It is about broadening access to the circle of power and connecting people to each other. So rather than having one person or a small group of people with proportionally more power than others, it is about spreading that across the group of people. Normally, it would be an organisation, but it could be a group of friends, family members, or whatever that might be. Actually, recognising that we are not taking away power from anyone by sharing it amongst everyone. It is kind of like when we love numerous people. We do not love someone less because we love someone else. It is the same with power. By sharing that power, it does not take away power from us, it adds to because it brings other people on board.

So what often helps with that is having a common purpose or a common goal that everyone is working towards. Sharing that responsibility and empowering everyone to work towards that. That has been shown to be incredibly powerful in terms of addressing on balance power dynamics and enabling people to feel like they are part of something bigger than them, and that they each have a part to play in support in that.

So what does that mean in reality? How do we fit that into our real lives? For me, that is about recognising that it is not about someone's level of importance or what they do or who they are. It is about recognising each individual for the value that they bring. So it is about respecting the different unique characteristics, traits, skills, and experiences that people bring, and recognising that within that, comes an element of responsibility and deserves some power as part of that.

So when we think about that in terms of perhaps in a team environment, it is about making sure that when we are doing something, we are listening to everybody, we are hearing everybody, we are empowering everybody to put forward their ideas. Now, that does not work in every environment. Those of you who have some leadership training in the past might be thinking about different models of leadership. We might think about things like democratic leadership, for example, versus authoritative leadership. But this is a different thing. This is about power and it is about responsibility and ensuring that everyone feels responsible for themselves. Everyone feels empowered. That might not be in everything that they do. That might not be feasible, and it might not be practical. But it is important to recognise that everybody has a responsibility for the parts of their own life that they are in control of and that they care about, and that they deserve to be empowered to be responsible for. So for me, it is about responsibility.

So today's sort of reflection point is about the balance of power. I would like you to think about a group that you are part of that you think the power dynamic could be different with. Like I say, that could be in the workplace. It could be your team. It could be your whole organisation. It could be a specific project team. It could be a voluntary thing that you do. It could be maybe you are part of a church group, or perhaps you sing in a group, perhaps you dance, whatever it might be. Any sports activities or it could be your family unit. It could be a group of friends, something where the power balance just does not seem quite right and you think there could be improvements.

What I would like you to reflect on today is thinking about how it might be if there was a more appropriate balance of power and what that might look like. Then the second part is, what might you be able to do to help move towards that. Now, that is not about you taking responsibility for making those big changes, but it is about maybe you are instigating a conversation, or maybe you are acting or behaving in a certain way that ensures that you are empowering other people, or that you are empowering yourself, depending on where that balance is not quite right. So that is what I would like you to think about today - one example for you where you feel the power balance could be different. It does not need to be a huge group. It could just be a one-on-one relationship with someone that you work with or someone that you live with, anybody. But something where the power balance just does not feel quite right in whatever way that might be, and what could you do to move a step in what you feel is the right direction for that balance?

So that is collaborative power. You might want to do a little bit of reading about that if this is a new topic to you, then feel free to read around this. But it is essentially about the balance of power and sharing that responsibility and ensuring that everybody feels empowered to take responsibility for the bits that they deserve to be responsible for. So that is collaborative power and that is the fourth part of this section of the TRUE Leaders Programme on empowering.

In the next video, we will bring together everything that we have learned about empowering. We will look at the so what and the now what of what we have learned from the last few days.

So thank you very much for your time today. I hope you enjoy thinking about the balance of power in your own dynamics and what you might be able to do differently. We will come back in the next video when we start to bring everything together around this topic.

Audio (to stream or download)