Power Dynamics and Progressive Leadership

Jan 27, 2021

Do you understand the power dynamics in your workplace and your role in them? Do you know how often your colleagues experience harassment? Have you experienced harassment?

Power Dynamics and Awareness

Power dynamics are tricky and insidious. Our society is built on the idea that some groups have more power than others

Today, we can clearly see that our systems are malfunctioning, and need to be dismantled it brick by brick. We have to take an honest look around us and heighten awareness.

Speaking of awareness, we’ve been studying and learning about discrimination and abuse for so long, we got mired in the waters of discovery without properly applying what we’ve learned. Lack of awareness leads to low empathy for those with less power. Lack of awareness and empathy of these power imbalances leads to unintended misuse of power. People with the power are often blind to the impact they have on those with less power. This is a clear choice, especially as all current leadership training includes thinking about these power dynamics, as well as anti-racism and anti-discrimination.

On the other side of this coin we have passive leaders sitting and waiting for those who feel unsafe and afraid for their options to approach them with problems. This puts the responsibility of finding the decision-maker and approaching them about the issue on the person(s) with the least power and control over their options.

When people with less power feel marginalized, under-valued, shut down or even put down, they feel unsafe and unrewarded, and unmotivated to contribute their unique talents.

Active Progressive Leadership

As a leader, you have CONTROL over another person’s options. Their livelihood, their career and ambition:

  • Greater ability to enact penalties on the other person
  • Greater ability to elevate and give rewards to the other person, including granting them additional power, financial security, growth opportunities
  • Greater access to additional bonuses/ perks or people in higher positions of power
  • Greater immunity from consequences when you break norms or rules


Active leaders go out and create intentional eco-systems. They are at the steering wheel and ahead of any possible scandal, rather than surprised when one erupts.

Consequences for actions need to be levied fairly and consistently. The rules apply to all, and we the leaders are responsible for creating the rules AS WELL AS following them ourselves. Even the decision of what consequences will occur when breaking the rules is often under-informed. We are not used to understanding that consequences are carried and experienced differently depending on the power we hold in our eco-systems. Are we losing our position but not income? Or are we losing are livelihood and the ability to feed our family? Are we afraid or are we confident in our ‘placement’ in our community and workplace?

When we practice passive leadership, we create toxic workplaces that underperform.

For a society that almost worships productivity and efficiency, it seems what we create around us is counterproductive, and often inhumane. When we experience harassment, abuse or even micro-aggressions we accumulate trauma.  We learn to function with our mental health pain, but that is all it is, functioning. We are no longer producing our best work, our best creative work, our best communication. We manage our breakdowns, push ourselves forward: “do this now and I can cry later” and/or “drink later” What happens is a chain of harassment, which creates systemic harassment.


What can you  DO about it? We have several options for you!

One is contact with us to set up a discovery call Discovery Call See what answers are available to to address what is happening around you that you don’t know how to approach.

We invite to sign up for our  bi- monthly newsletter that we curate with resources for gaining knowledge to start creating an equitable and inclusive workplace.

To help Progressive Leaders learn and feel more confident to tackle issues they face we create a unique Masterclass. This is a 2 semester program where the Founders of Not In My Colour work and a facilitated learning community for leaders: Leaders in Excellence Masterclass

We hope this article has been helpful for you. If it has, connect with us on a social media platform.

Remember, we are always here, working with you to create a functionally inclusive future.



Anna Robson.