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A complex, multifaceted and little discussed construct, power nevertheless influences every relationship in our lives, every context we show up in. Historically humanity has struggled deeply with this facet of our existence. These struggles frequently leave us either limp with frustration or pumped up like puffer fish on our own importance. And when events in our world reach crescendos of chaos and limited resource, the application of power has a nasty track record. Despite the direct relevance of this topic to the quality of our human lives and that of the entire planet, power remains a philosophical runt and a practical hornet’s nest. This paper is an invitation to an ongoing dialogue around and concrete practice of healthy, ethical forms of power in our everyday contexts.
Building on the work of Integral, organizational, and developmental theorists, this presentation offers a summary of some new frameworks for understanding power, its application and its contexts. We will then dive into the concrete tools and practices that provide us with a much-needed set of levers for instituting healthier and more ethical expressions of power in any organizational context. Using case studies from the application of this set of tools in a range of organizations, I discuss what appears to work in practice and the theory behind the practice.