Whenever elections roll around, the idea of power, and it’s affect on people, always comes to mind. How can you possibly determine who will be able to use their power wisely and who will become a tyrant? You can’t deny the temptation it offers. Having the power to tell others what to do? To be in a position that commands respect? It’s no surprise that it can get to a person’s head. This doesn’t mean that power corrupts absolutely, but according to Queendom’s research, power can mean very different things to different people.
There are some traits, according to our research, that can potentially pre-dispose people to abuse authority. These include excessive competitiveness, a tendency to want to dominate and control others regardless of the situation, and a self-serving attitude towards power. And this hunger for power and control has its consequences. “Power-trippers” are more likely to have problems in their professional and personal relationships (and to have a relationship end due to their excessive need for control). They are also less satisfied with their job, and tend to see power as important, if not crucial, to their success. In essence, those who are power-hungry are more likely to believe that being in a position of power will improve their life.
62% of our sample believes that if they are in a position of authority, they will receive the respect and social status they feel they deserve (or crave). This isn’t to say that power won’t do that, but it depends a great deal on your personality. “Nearly all men can stand adversity,” states Abraham Lincoln, “but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” So for example, if what lies behind your desire for power is a very small ego that needs a boost, that’s where the trouble starts. What often lies behind a small ego is fear, insecurity, lack of self-worth and self-love, which form a rather small platform on which to wield your authority.
Attitude toward power, it seems, plays a major role in how a person will use it. When comparing people with a self-serving view of power to those who believe that it is something that should be used responsibly, Queendom’s research revealed some surprising differences:
- 88% of those who are self-serving will use intimidation to get what they want, compared to 7% of the responsible group.
- 98% of those who are self-serving see power as a way to improve their social status, compared to 8% of the responsible group.
- 88% of those who are self-serving believe that doing their best is not enough – they need to BE the best (compared to 26% of the responsible group).
- 96% of those who are self-serving dislike being outperformed by others, compared to 31% of the responsible group.
- 81% of those who are self-serving believe that being in a position of power is the only way they can gain the respect of others, compared to 1% of the responsible group.
- 96% of those who are self-serving believe that being in a position of power means that they are superior to others, compared to 1% of the responsible group.
- 89% of those who are self-serving stated that they are much more confident in a position of authority, compared to 1% of the responsible group.
- 78% of those who are self-serving feel uneasy when they are not the ones in charge of a task, compared to 15% of the responsible group.
- 95% of those who are self-serving aim to win…even in friendly competitions, compared to 20% of the responsible group.
- 29% of those who are self-serving would put other people’s needs first if given a position of power, compared to 83% of the responsible group.
“Perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who…have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.”