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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Power-Violation-Resistance Dynamic


“Where there is power, there is resistance.”
― Michel Foucault
This is a great truth that leaders everywhere should be aware of. Truly inspiring leadership caters for perceptions around power, acknowledging that resistance isn’t something to resist; that it’s an opportunity to be harmonised. When we respect the expression of resistance, seeking to understand its oppositional power base, we may reduce the resistance through cooperation. The power of two is greater than the power of one.
Where There is a Violation...
... then there will be resistance.
Nothing is surer in the relational setting. And conflict, as it is, is a relational construct of two sides at odds with one another – whether it’s conflict within one person, between two or more people, or between two groups (or more).
If we understand the dynamics between people – and the inner forces of psychology that drive us all – we can subsume much of the passive aggressiveness and overt hostility in a sense of mutual productiveness. This we do by creating a relational relationship. They say that it pays to keep our enemies closer than our friends; there is a great advantage in having the interest and the pluck to maintain a troubled relationship.
Surely good leadership – and wise partnership (for that’s what true leadership is about) – is about knowing the influence of resistance. When we can lead in such ways as to meet the resistance through understanding, we gradually dissolve the resistance, for there is less to fear in those resisting.
But leadership voices that do not cater for resistance very well will increase the presence of resistance – unless they smash it altogether, creating a dictatorship. But there will always be tacit resistance in any case of a violation of power; the disjunct of relationship.
Relationships were always designed as vestibules of teamwork, and more-or-less the institution of power was always meant to operate as a dance. After all, who really is in control? It can only be God.
Our ever-present challenge is to come back to the solemn truth that one who insists upon being a friend to all is the one committed to forgiveness, because the relationship – and hence any project – lays contingent on our willingness and capacity to forgive. Forgiveness transforms power into something palatable and it’s a spiritual destination where resistance can’t stand.
“One who forgives an affront fosters friendship, but one who dwells on disputes will alienate a friend.”
— Proverbs 17:9 (NRSV)
***
If we have power or influence let’s know,
We’re positioned to stifle or to grow,
This is about the people we lead,
So let’s resolve now to sow good seed.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

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