Power Sets the True Self Free
We have all heard it before. Power makes people change, but I would argue that power simply allows individuals to become their “true self”. When a person gains a powerful position, they no longer have to fear repercussions or conform to a group. They no longer are in the same social situations has the “powerless”. They do not have to change to fit in. Suddenly people in power are the ones making the rules and the people around them must conform to the “powerful” individual’s rules. Power simply allows the individuals to become whoever they want to be without limitations. Power sets free your “true self”.
When you have power you no longer have certain limitations placed on you. A powerful person does not have to fear repercussions for doing something wrong because they are the one making the rules. Research has shown that when individuals are placed in a position of power, they often forget to look at problems and situations from other’s perspectives. Since powerful people often go unpunished, they believe they can do anything, and they are entitled to whatever they want. So, a powerful individual’s sense of entitlement only grows larger as the individual’s power gets bigger. This is only true if the individual in power possesses certain egocentric characteristics that would lead the powerful individual to develop a sense of entitlement.
Powerful leaders who possess self-serving interest within their character prior to gaining power will often find a way to justify doing immoral things to enhance their position. An egocentric individual who becomes powerful can often influence many individuals below them to follow them. This happens because the powerless feel it is okay for a corrupt leader to act a certain way simply because they are their leader or boss. We have been trained since we were children to follow the rules and to listen to those in charge. So of course, most people will follow their leaders and bosses because what their leaders are saying and doing must be appropriate and correct because they are the ones in charge.
If a person who has more pro-self-views is placed into power you are going to have a leader that is often cold, demonstrative, unsympathetic, harsh, angry, self-serving, and power hungry. However, if you place an individual in power who has more pro-social views ,who wants to benefit everyone, you will have a leader that is interested in working with the team, making things better for all members, and creating a positive work environment. People who are placed in power should strongly believe in fairness, compassion, generosity, and morally doing what is best for all. This is the best chance to get a fair and righteous leader.
So, it’s not power that makes a person bad, power simply amplifies and heightens the negative characteristics within a person they already had prior to gaining power. Power does not change an individual. It simply allows the harsh truth of what kind of person an individual really is on the inside to shine through. In fact, our past president Abraham Lincoln said it best “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”