Positions of Power (revisited)
As promised, Day 20 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project is the follow up to the Pink Collar Power Series Intro shared in yesterday’s post which described the Positions of Power. There are two power categories: Formal Power that accompanies a leadership position and Personal Power where followers admire, respect, and seek the approval of the leader, whether in a leadership position or not. Pink Collar women in the workplace and in the home can have formal and/or personal power.
Originally, I’d planned to write about all five of the types of power that fall under the two categories in this post. Then I’d break them down under The Purpose of Power, The Problem with Power and the Potential of Power in subsequent posts. After pondering coercive power and how it can show up in the workplace (and at home), however, I’ve decided to tackle the topics one at a time starting with it. This necessitates changing the order of the “of Power” topics…
The Problem with Power
Coercive power falls under the formal power category. It is the ability of the leader to influence using intimidation and threats. For ease of transition, I’d like to speak to how this plays out at home. Sometimes the power mothers hold to influence children by giving consequences for poor choices (i.e. loss of privileges) or to mete out punishments (i.e. grounding) is misused and can provoke children and cause them to become discouraged. Likewise, in the workplace, leaders use coercive power to take away things such as advancement opportunities, assignments to key projects, and visibility. It also threatens punishment such as write ups, being placed on probation, a performance improvement plan, and other disciplinary actions up to and including termination. Of course, there are times when use of coercive power is warranted. It can yield desired performance improvements when used appropriately.
The problem is not with power itself. The problem is with inappropriate use of power. Some Pink Collar professionals abuse it and this can border on or become workplace bullying. That was definitely the case with Meryl Streep’s portrayal of Miranda Priestly in the iconic film The Devil Wears Prada. Pondering cohesive power this evening, I was inspired to include the infamous “Gird Your Loins” scene depicting this Pink Collar Devil in Prada to demonstrate it’s inappropriate use. It’s apparent her arrival in the office strikes terror in the hearts of her subordinates…Patience is required with my media uploading skills, and I ask you to ignore other movies clips that are included with this link. I couldn’t quite figure out how to just have the one scene, but must admit I am tickled pink : ) to be able to load at all.
That’s coercive power at work (literally), right?!!!
If you’ve never seen the movie, or haven’t in a while, it teaches some serious leadership lessons. It also provides for a great Girls’ Night In, a Chick-Flick/Rom-Com Date Night, or just vegging out on the sofa solo, so perhaps you’ll check it out…Most of us have worked for a Miranda (and are still suffering from PTSD) and some of us have been her (Scary thought!) Imagine being raised by her. Sadly, Miranda was a mom of twin girls if my memory serves me correctly. Though fictitious, one can only hope her coercive power showed up differently with her daughters…
The problem with inappropriate use of coercive power is this: When you’re a Pink Collar devil wearing Prada, you may think you’re leading, but because no one wants to follow, you’re just taking a walk. As Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose women – whether at work, at home, or both, there are so many leadership lessons to be learned from Miranda – on How NOT to lead!