It's Different When You Get the Power

By: Glenda G. Lofton, Ph.D.

Nov 20, 2018

For several years, Tommy Lofton was a national consultant in the staffing industry. Typically, he was called in to help companies become more productive.  Because I also served as a consultant to help schools become more productive, and because many of the concepts and principles apply to any organization, I would often sit in on the sessions he did. One of my favorites was a session he called “Great Expectations.” At the beginning of the session, he would pose the question, “What do you expect from your boss?”

The response from participants was immediate and enthusiastic. A long list of lofty expectations was soon generated.  Typically, the list included the following: (1) communication—explains things; (2) helps me—knows when I need help; (3) understands my problems; (4) doesn’t treat me just as a cog in a machine; (4) trustworthy—I can trust him/her; (5) shows confidence in me; (6) understands my mistakes and teaches me; (7) is competent; (8) doesn’t ask more of me than of himself/herself; (9) does what he/she says; (10) treats me as an equal—doesn’t treat me like a child; etc., etc., etc. After reading back through the list, Tommy would pause for a moment, and he would ask, “What do your workers or co-workers expect from you?”

Watching the faces of the group as they realized the same expectations applied to them as well, I was always reminded of a student that had participated in a research study I did in Georgia--a tall, robust, articulate young man whose role model was his uncle, an outspoken political activist. When the student council president of the school tried to enact a new policy in the school, this student circulated a petition, had the president impeached, had himself elected as president, and then enacted the same policy himself.  When I questioned him as to how he could enact what he had the former president impeached for, he looked me straight in the eye and said, “You know, Dr. Lofton, it’s different when you get the power!”

A weekly newspaper in Lafayette, LA interviewed 23 leading people about issues or concerns they have as they anticipate the year.  Bret’s pastor, Mike Walker, noted that “People today worship the unholy trinity: me, myself, and I” and that this “self focus leads to delusion, disappointment, and destruction.”  He expressed the need for leaders and a populace who will put others before themselves, serve others, and practice selflessness, noting that “true greatness is not measured by what we obtain, but rather by what we give.”

Mike Walker’s comments are consistent with an article that Bret sent me by Robert Tamsay, Vice President for Leader’s Legacy, a non-profit organization in Georgia.  In the article, Tamsay contrasts the tendency today to define success and happiness in terms of what we want with a statement by Albert Schweitzer, the German–French philosopher and physician who established a hospital in Africa in the early 1900s: “I don’t know what your destiny will be,” Dr. Schweitzer stated, “but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”  Some, Tamsay writes, might dismiss this as foolish idealism, not relevant to the demanding work environment where most of us spend our working hours.  However, he asks us to recall times in our own lives that have been enhanced by the selflessness of others: a coworker that voluntarily offered assistance, even when it was not required, or a boss who invested time and energy to guide us, helping us become more skilled and productive, ultimately more valuable to the company.

When Tommy Lofton began the Lofton Corporation back in 1979, his goal was to build on what he had learned in industry, and life, to create a work environment where people treat others the way they want to be treated, where they become the kind of leader and coworker that they want others to be, where people study, train and work not only to serve clients but to serve each other, understanding that if they help others to improve, they have already helped themselves—a place where people do what they do for the joy of it. In such an environment, most leaders are not at the top. Servant leaders lead not from positions of power, but from who they are and what they do.

The history books and current headlines are filled with examples of the abuse of power in government and in business and its negative impact on the lives of others.  On a smaller scale, how are we using the power entrusted to us? What do you expect of your co-workers?  What do your co-workers expect of you?  Is it different when you get the power?

About Lofton: Founded in 1979, Lofton Services offers clients the best of all worlds. We provide the responsive, personal service and flexibility of a small local firm while having the technology, resources, and infrastructure to deliver the benefits of the biggest players in our industry. Lofton Staffing can deliver the right people, with the right skills, right when you need them. Contact us today


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We Believe...

Relationships are built…one on one.
Know your people - match interest and talents to the tasks.
Don’t manage by numbers. (They just show if we’re on track.) People do the work.
People should feel better when they leave than when they came – and in turn we feel better.
When we help others, we help ourselves.
Great expectations: fair pay, fair treatment, teach me.
Have fun…and be better.
Work at having fun (51% of the time.) If you don’t feel it, fake it. Having fun is not slacking off. Work is more natural than play.