Does leadership power really corrupt?

History implies that leadership power seems to have a corrupting influence on many people. There is also an assertion by many writers that most people are basically good and that the power which leadership brings, corrupts their leadership into a more self serving state of mind.

Whenever we mention the word ‘power’ today, there is a tendency for a picture of evil, self serving, manipulation, and aggression to be seen. However, when power is used in an ethical and purposeful way, there is actually nothing very evil about it at all.

The following are well used accepted phrases:

“Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it” – spoken in the UK house of Lords by William Pitt in 1770.

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” – first used in a letter by Lord Acton to Bishop Creighton in 1887.

But these do not really bear any logical scrutiny.

If it is accepted that power is actually a liberating mechanism, which gives to the owner a freedom of action and thought, free from consequences. Then, if people are intrinsically good, this should result in the ethical and proper use of this power for the greater good. If people are intrinsically bad, then corrupt use of the power will inevitably ensue.

Power does not corrupt. It mearly releases the corruption or goodness that is already there.

The main questions are: where does this underlying goodness or badness come from? Is goodness or badness acquired or innate? Are we born good or bad, or neither?

“It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways”……………….Buddha

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One Response to Does leadership power really corrupt?

  1. Pingback: The “Power” Thing! & Corruption « Our World?

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