I have always been taken with the Star Wars series.  The original movie (Star Wars IV) was played over and over again till the tape wore out (Yes, I owned it on VHS).  There are a number of scenes which jump out at me in this movie but one in which I think has a real message regarding leadership and power.  The scene is where Darth Vader and Obi Wan meet in battle.  Both of them draw their weapons and proceed to fight.  Obi Wan says “You cannot defeat me.  I will become more powerful than you imagine.”  They proceed to dual and in the scene Luke, Hans, Chewy and the Princess begin to make their escape from captivity.  Obi Wan sees their escape and knows that they will be safe and proceeds to end the fight disengaging and holding up his weapon.  Vader goes to cut Obi Wan in half but when he tries, Obi Wan seemingly vanishes.  (Here is the link to the scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kpHK4YIwY4

The moment that Obi Wan gives up the fight he begins to fulfill his prophesy that he is more powerful than can be imagined.

In leadership our personal power is such an interesting thing.  Many of us would continue the battle to see who the ultimate winner is: me or the employee.  Most of the time it is the manager since they hold the “do this or your fired” card.  For me, this clip demonstrated the difference between exerting power and influence vs. actually living into our power and influence.  Can we exert power without feeling powerful?  I see it all the time

We have all been in the presence of people whom live into their power.  There is a self-confidence, an energy about them.  Personal power has been defined as the influence over others, the source of which resides in the person instead of being vested by the position he or she holds.

When we execute our power from a place of position rather than that “which resides in the person”, people will do as they are told and that is as far as they go.  When we operate from within, people will follow us.

So what really does constitute power?  Better question might be what constitutes effective leadership? I think there is really only three components: accountability, authenticity and integrity.

Accountability-holding yourself to a standard

Integrity-keeping your word

Authenticity-being who you truly are

(A recent article in Harvard Business Review made a case that the only true quality is authenticity)

The combination of these three attributes builds authentic power, builds authentic leadership.  And here is the secret-it does not matter if you have a formal leader role in an organization.  Anyone, and I truly mean anyone, can live these qualities and be identified as a leader.


Many leaders I work with are busy trying to prove themselves to their boss or their subordinates.  They violate one or all of these traits.  And their followers see this. It is almost as if they are trying to validate that they are worthy of the position that they have.  I told one coaching client that he needs to stop proving himself-he got the job.  Now he needs to start being the leader that he was hired to be.  When he started to demonstrated the three traits, his followers began to react to him differently.  He truly began to drive the business of the unit.  He went from a place of fear to a place of power by understanding that the metrics he was generating was an indicator of his ability to truly lead a team.  When you lead from fear, you cannot truly build a breakthrough organization.

I think that Marianne Williamson was correct when she said “We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you”.

Power is not about fighting, it is not about a title.  True power is enacting the three qualities outline above.  How do you rate in these areas?

Now back to the movie,,,,