Navigating Power Dynamics with Integrity


Hi, everybody. I’m Mike Staver. This is Mondays with Mike, a weekly video series where I answer questions from people just like you. 

“How can I navigate power dynamics and ethical challenges in the workplace to maintain my integrity and professional reputation?”

Mike: Well, Marty, I’m going to bring you back in on this one. I’m over my head a little bit here. I’ll say what I think then Marty I want to hear what you have to say.

There are always power dynamics in any organization. I don’t want to say you have to know your place, but you have to know your power. How much influence or power do you really have in the organization? And as Superman’s father said, only use your powers for good. So pay attention to where the centers of power are. And they’re often not just centered with the boss. Does that mirror your experiences Marty?

Marty: Yeah, and I think to your point too it’s really being aware, like you’re saying of where not only your role is, but in terms of like the whole organization as well and kind of being able to act within those so that way you’re not getting yourself in trouble.

Mike: Yeah, right. You don’t cross the wrong boundary, do the wrong thing.

The ethical challenges thing is very important. You know, they do whole classes on ethics, and there are a lot of lines in ethics. I know a lot of people who are black and white – it’s right or wrong, good or bad, up or down. But, you know, if you’ve ever played one of those ethical challenge games, like, would you do X if you could cure cancer pretty soon, you know if it’s a clear ethical violation and you have to stay away from it, you probably have to tell somebody about it. I mean, I worked in medicine for a long time, if there was a clear ethical violation it was my responsibility, I could lose my job.

So the way that you maintain integrity in your professional reputation is that you’re always sort of the person who is going to be the centrist and neutral person on matters that are power based or matters that are difficult, and you’re never going to be the person trying to aggressively claw back power. You’re going to respect the power dynamics in the organization. And before you jump to accuse in an ethical situation or you jump to punish or jump to talk, be mindful of the intended consequences.

I think that’s the best you can do.

Hope that answer was helpful, it was tough to answer.

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