Power changes people. It changes people’s attitudes about themselves, and how they feel about others. POWER CHANGES PEOPLE!
The ugly side of power gives the powerful a distorted opinion of themselves and contempt for others. The ugly (powerful) leader continually seeks and requires the approval of his/her subordinates, but over time the ugly leader finds flaws with these same people because they don’t share the same level of power.
The ugly leader likes to blur the line between their successes and the organization’s successes. They often take credit for successes that aren’t their own. They rarely give credit to others. They sometimes use the word “we”, but they find it tedious and annoying to do so. They find fault with the successes of others since they weren’t involved. They are masters are creating spin (positive for them, negative for others).
Great leaders love people and use things. Ugly leaders love things and use people. Ugly leaders are bad listeners, are intellectually dishonest, and often use their power for corrupt or unethical purposes. They love to communicate using jargon and techno-babble. They are rarely personally accountable for failure and almost always responsible for success. They have few close personal relationships (that last) and are usually held in low regard throughout the organizations they represent. They are often smart, but small minded. They are rarely available, often invisible, and pathologically self-centered.
Ugly leaders are everywhere, and they behavior is a cancer that can kill an organization’s/team’s spirit.
Ugly leaders surround themselves with yes men/women. These “supporters” love to reinforce the ugly leader’s self-delusionary perceptions. They filter out bad news which causes the ugly leader to lose touch with reality. Ugly leaders require praise from their followers, but over time the ugly leader devalues the feedback because it comes from people that are inferior. Over time they come to love the praise, but have contempt for the praise giver.
Ugly leaders are blinded by power and usually don’t realize they are caught in the throws of ugliness. Their egos, unethical behavior, and delusions are easy to spot by everyone but themselves. They are pathetic, but often a curiosity.
Ugliness can be overcome, but it takes the ugly leader to conduct an honest self-appraisal and seek out the opinions of those leaders that are held in high regard. They then must take this feedback and act on it. This rarely happens because of ego.
Power by itself is not good, bad, or ugly, but ugly power almost always corrupts. Remember Lord Acton’s quote, “All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.