5a Power Issues and Ranking in Change
Processes
Rank and Power
What is Rank?
Arnold Mindell defines rank as "the sum of a ...
Rank Assessment Tool
Think about the group, organization or community that you belong to. How do you
experience life in th...
• Your cognitive complexity (e.g. ability to understand paradox)?
Transpersonal rank
• Your detachment from your ego or pe...
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Power issues and ranking in change processes

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Power issues and ranking in change processes

  1. 1. 5a Power Issues and Ranking in Change Processes Rank and Power What is Rank? Arnold Mindell defines rank as "the sum of a person's privileges." He describes it as a conscious or unconscious, social or personal ability or power. Whether you earned or inherited your rank, it organises much of your communication behaviour, especially at flashpoints of conflict. Robert Fuller writes of the abuse of rank, and the power associated with it as 'rankism'. He describes it as 'the mother of all isms'. While less conspicuous than racism or sexism, rankism is something that everyone has experienced in some form. Rank and Conflict: Communication in conflict situations tends to be organized by the conscious and unconscious use of power. Rank is often a key factor in organising how we experience and ourselves and others in conflict situations. Wherever differences of power are perceived (consciously or unconsciously) conflict is likely to occur. Often in protracted conflicts, power is seen only on the 'other' side, and not our own side. Feeling powerless escalates conflict. Raising awareness of power issues can help to change patterns of communication in conflict. Deadlocks can be broken when people with obvious power learn to use it wisely, and people without clear power discover and own their strengths. Rank Awareness: Rank is relational. It influences our interactions, whether we are aware of it or not, because its influence is as much in how others see us as in how we experience ourselves. Most of us have a tendency to be sensitive to how the rank of others is affecting us, while remaining less aware of how our own rank affects others. When we are comfortable, we tend to take our high rank for granted and lose awareness of how others might feel around us. Often in conflict, each side may feel oppressed, yet fail to notice how their own rank may seem oppressive to others. Where there are rank imbalances, it is usually those with less rank who raise a complaint and make those with higher rank mo re aware of their status. Working with Rank We cannot simply eliminate the differences in power and privilege and the feelings arising from these issues. However we can be aware of rank dynamics and address the differences of power and privilege in ways that help to understand conflict and value all parties involved. While some types of rank imbalances may be static, other types may be more fluid. The sense of power can change quite rapidly between people from moment to moment, as different types of power dynamics are experienced. Different types of rank: • Situational rank • Social rank • Personal rank • Transpersonal rank There are many kinds of power, some of which exist in the context of our organisations or society, while others stem from our personal development. Each kind of power confers specific privileges, which provide relative freedom of choice and confidence in a given situation. Below you can find a tool that can help you and stakeholders to asses the different types and levels of rank. ICCO Alliance - Personal Learning Diary: Module 2, April 2008 19 1
  2. 2. Rank Assessment Tool Think about the group, organization or community that you belong to. How do you experience life in that setting? What are the privileges that you have in that environment? Consider how you are seen by others. How does your rank in the following areas shape your experience? A high rank experience is indicated by feeling free to be yourself, being listened to and respected by others, having your opinions sought out and feeling a sense of responsibility for this group/organization/community. A low rank experience is indicated by feeling marginalized, unseen, out of step with the mainstream, resentful or hopeless in the context of this group/organization/community. On a scale of 1 – 5 (5 being highest and 1 being lowest) rate your rank in the following areas (remember, it is based on both your experience and how you are perceived by others): Type of rank Rank score Situational rank • The number of power bases from which you operate on a regular basis? • Your role in former hierarchy? • Your seniority? • Your expertise of experience? • Your closeness to ‘core group’? • Your temporary circumstances, e.g. moral high ground on an issue Social rank • Your race? • Your ethnicity? • Your gender? • Your age? • Your class? • Your profession? • Your wealth/money? • Your education (formal, qualifications)? • Your physical health/ability? • Your sexual orientation? • Your family/social network? • Your marital status? • Your children? • Your appearance/beauty? • Your religious affiliation? • Your title? • Your languages/multi-linguistic? Personal rank • Your self awareness? • Your charisma? • Your self confidence? • Your strength of character? • Your emotional intelligence? • Your courage? • Your ability to survive adversity? • Your education (life, not qualifications)? • Your ability to communicate/influence others? • Your internal cohesion (ability to be congruent)? • Your maturity? • ICCO Alliance - Personal Learning Diary: Module 2, April 2008 20 2
  3. 3. • Your cognitive complexity (e.g. ability to understand paradox)? Transpersonal rank • Your detachment from your ego or personal desires? • Your connection to something larger than yourself? • Your faith (not religion)? • Your ability to transcend or forgive past hurts? • Your freedom from fear? • Your service to an altruistic vision? • Your intuitive or prescient ability? 3

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