I believe that the nature of power is changing.
Power is really what I am talking about every day when I talk to clients and conferences about Web 2.0. It is not about technology but about a shift in behaviours from a command and control mentality to an instigate and nurture one. It is the change from knowledge is power meaning holding on to it to knowledge is power meaning to give it away. It is about trust. It is about being half full instead of half empty. It is about being prepared to see the best in everyone. Everyone!
Listening to Seth Godin's Tribes at the moment on Audiblle the section on leadership really chimed with my experience. The power of leaders who instigate and support but don't disempower by forcing particular outcomes, as Jimmy Wales does with Wikipedia and I did with our forum at the BBC, is replacing the power of the directive, problem solving, macho male.
David Weinberger has a great post celebrating the election of Obama as US president and in it he has these two inspiring paragraphs:
To live up to the ideal we just embraced, we have to do intentionally what Obama does by nature. He listens to those with whom he disagrees, but he responds only to the goodness expressed in even the most fear-driven of statements. Ignore the small, the petty, the self-involved, the defensive, and respond to the moments of goodness in all of us.
This is a practical program. I’ve seen it adopted on purpose and I’ve seen it work. Avoiding getting dragged into negative shoutfests is basic troll management. Learning to hear and respond to what is good and shared in an expression we find detestable is harder. The best teachers do this routinely. We can all learn to do it. We can. Yes, we can.
I constantly wonder whether my belief that the nature of power is changing is over optimistic and naive. The fact that my belief is reinforced by the behaviour of the most powerful man in the world makes me more confident that it is not.