Power just makes you more than you already were

“Power just makes you more than you already were.” That’s actually a good summary of the new line of thinking in psychology: power is like an amplifier. Whoever we were before, it gets louder.

World leaders, current or former CEOs, and founders of large companies agree: Power doesn’t change people as much as it accentuates their pre-existing traits. Today we know that power disinhibits us [1]. Gaining influence and authority frees us [2] to act according to our royal desires [3] and show our true colors [4], although we have long been convinced – wrongly – that power corrupts.

To predict how people will use power, it is necessary to find out what their motives, values ​​and identities are [5] before they have it. And for this, studies have shown us that there are those who are a “giver” – generous – of character and there are those who are a “taker” – selfish – of character [6].

When we affirm that power corrupts, we liberate powerful people from their personal responsibility to get away with it. The way you use authority reveals your character: Selfish leaders accumulate power for personal gain. Servant leaders share power for social good. And the ultimate test of the character of people in power is how they treat people who lack it.


Taken out of the book Give and Take. Why helping others drives our success. Adam Grant


We have included all the references of the article in case you want to deep in:

[1] Power, approach, and inhibition. Keltner, Dacher, Gruenfeld, Deborah H., Anderson & Cameron
[2] From Power to Action. Galinsky, A. D., Gruenfeld, D. H., & Magee, J. C
[3] Power reduces the press of the situation: Implications for creativity, conformity, and dissonance. Galinsky, A. D., Magee, J. C., Gruenfeld, D. H, Whitson, J. A., & Liljenquist, K. A.
[4] Relationship orientation as a moderator of the effects of social power. Chen, S., Lee-Chai, A. Y., & Bargh, J. A.
[5] Does power corrupt or enable? When and why power facilitates self-interested behavior. DeCelles, K. A., DeRue, D. S., Margolis, J. D., & Ceranic, T. L.
[6] Relationship orientation as a moderator of the effects of social power. S. Chen, A. Y. Lee-Chai, J. A. Bargh.

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