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When Power and Rules Collide

Photo by Mark Duffel on Unsplash

A recent article in USA Today highlighted a recent group of CEOs who violated their company’s code of conduct.  Many of the individuals, the most recent being Priceline’s CEO Darren Huston, were found to have engaged in inappropriate personal relationships with employees.  One can’t help but wonder, “Why would you jeopardize your career, lifestyle, and destroy your family when you have the world by the tail?”  Can power, success, wealth, and fame cloud our judgement and thinking that badly?  Or do most of these people believe they won’t get caught or can talk their way out of it?  Many highly successful people perform well, make their company incredibly profitable, yet misbehave and make some very bad choices.  Some may feel the rules don’t apply to them and that they deserve special treatment while others may minimize their misbehaviors and defend their position.

Power can make people crazy.  Whether the person is a CEO, professional athlete, celebrity, politician, physician, or entrepreneur, power, control, fame and fortune can cause people to choose self-destructive behaviors.  Some get bored easily and need the constant stimulation and challenges to keep the adrenaline rush going.  Others can justify their behaviors and claim that their amazing success entitles them to have whatever they want.  In my practice I witness how relationships are destroyed, violated, compromised, neglected, or damaged due to this common power failure.  Even subtle changes in workplace interactions and connections can compromise one’s position and effectiveness.  Trust is broken and respect lost when people use their power inappropriately and offend others with their words and actions. So can people change?

Yes, people can change, but only when the desire to change is there.  Some people don’t want to invest the time and effort to change or they are convinced change is not really necessary.  As part of my work, I am committed to making my patients aware of what needs to change and offer ways to make that happen.  Simply gaining awareness and sensitivity to others is a good start along with considering the impact your actions have on others.  Of course changing both thoughts and actions are part of the therapy process.  Also learning how to talk to people with respect and compassion which may seem simple, but some lack the skills.  In essence, learning people smarts and emotional intelligence can help relationships both at work and home.  Remember that positive connections with people enables us to have a greater significance and impact on their lives.

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