Power Trips Trip You Up

Showing power or pulling rank when unnecessary can cost you that power.

Power Corrupts.

Power affects people. Power interferes with the ability to think straight. Power drives those with any significant amount of it to become desperate and irrational to hold onto it; to assert that their view of their own position as a reality. They will start to "flex" and pull rank just to assure them that they can. A common saying holds true here: "Any boss who has to say they are the boss is not the boss."

Power Trip (from Urban Dictionary … but they're right) -

 Someone, typically at work, who has higher powers over most people they work with. This higher power (usually a manager or someone's boss) tends to go to their head causing them to "Power trip" and abuse their rights as a manager/boss/owner. Such as picking on people or making their lives difficult, "Just because they can." is a person who is on a Power Trip.

When a person is in throws of trying their hardest to hold on to an illusion of power, they end up doing a very poor job of actually doing their job. The power they feel is important is likely to be its own undoing if not kept in check.

And here’s how:

Lower Morale

You’re at work, going about your business, and you see your boss. Instead of greeting you, they decide now is time for a power trip and tell you to do what you’re already doing. Now you’re going to be resentful over what you were already intending to do. The boss in this situation has accomplished upsetting and demotivating an employee to establish dominance.

That interaction that makes a boss feel important only demeans and demoralizes the employee. This is so common that if you seem to have a productivity or morale problem in your business, it isn’t the employees who need a closer look.

Higher Turnover

After seeing one too many superfluous displays of power—ineffective and unnecessary suspensions, warnings and threats for small transgressions, visibly playing favorites, issuing commands rather than asking favors, and generally treating employees as just another expense—most people will decide that the job isn’t worth staying for. Likely, with that environment, the pay is going to be so top-heavy and inequitable that they’re just correct. With each attempt to reassure yourself of your power, you risk losing your best people. The people who are smart enough to know they have no need to put up with it. The ones who keep everything together while you pretend and shout. When those people finally go, the rest will follow shortly behind.

Humans have developed over thousands, hundreds of thousands of years, for group dynamics. They’ve gotten good at leading and following. They can spot the real leaders within a group. Once the real leader has left, likely because of abused power, they’ll follow. If your best and brightest are leaving and the rest are following suit, it might be those little power trips.

Lower Productivity

When the boss has lost enough people, they might notice something is wrong. When customers who were once loyal start to lurch off and shop on price—which is a fight that can’t be ethically won and shouldn’t be fought—and revenue starts dropping, the boss just may begin searching for the cause. And that boss, studies suggest, employee engagement is one of the biggest factors in production numbers.

Increased turnover with ever lowering morale can destroy an organization from the bottom up. Those who stick around only deal with the situation because they feel trapped in the job. A job that doesn’t pay much also doesn’t allow for mobility. They're rightly resentful.

Casey Parker
Casey Parker

I'm a very cerebral person, with an eclectic history of jobs, projects, and studies. I've been everything from a C-level executive (which I hated), to a bottom level peon (which I enjoyed). Learn from somebody else's experience!

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Power Trips Trip You Up