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The look in this coworker’s eyes really disturbs me. It reflects the fear many individuals described in MeToo tweets in recent months. No one should ever be subjected to the sexual advances from a person of power in the workplace.
#metoo is empowering individuals to come forward and report sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace. Perpetrators of harm are on notice that a day of reckoning has come and victims will be silent no more.
Beginning with Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, an unmasking of sexual predators within media and government institutions is bringing a heightened awareness of the epidemic of sexual harassment in the workplace. Victims are primarily women, although a few men have also reported assault. In every case exposed thus far, the perpetrators have been men in positions of power.
No institution is safe to work in. Sexual harassment, abuse, or pedophilia in churches and schools is happening daily. 800,000 children are missing each year in America and many are being trafficked in the black market.
Sexual exploitation is an insidious virus infecting our society, doing great harm to innocent, vulnerable individuals. My hope is that the current purge in mainstream media will serve notice to all who hold positions of power that abuse in the workplace will no longer be tolerated. It cannot be ignored or covered-up.
As a business owner, I am in a position of power. A staff of 8 counselors work under my direct supervision. Additionally, I have clients who expect me to provide a safe space for them to talk about their personal problems. On occasion, clients disclose incidents of sexual harassment or abuse in the workplace. The emotional scars they bear is not something I would wish on my worst enemy.
If you are in a position of power listen closely. With power comes great responsibility. See how the mighty have fallen! It could happen to anyone of us.
To avoid this, let me share 3 things people in positions of power can learn from #metoo.
#1: You have a responsibility to make the environment a safe place to work.
People are looking to you for leadership, not lordship. The use of power to manipulate or control people for selfish purposes is actually a sign of weakness. Your position does not give you unlimited rights over your workers.
Instead, use your power to create a safe and healthy environment that fosters growth. Set clear expectations about respectful behavior in the workplace and take the lead in modeling it for your team.
#2: Be aware that entitlement may over-inflate your ego.
People in positions of power are usually called upon to perform important or difficult tasks. They are often applauded by others and given recognition.
Entitlements also come in positions of power. Perks, like a priority parking spot, corner office, or company car, etc… can quickly inflate your ego if you’re not careful.
How one handles success is very important. If you let it get to your head then it can become an Achilles heel that will eventually ruin your career. On the other hand, if you maintain a true sense of yourself, you will have greater positive impact on others.
#3: The greatest use of your power is in servant leadership.
Perpetrators of harm believe others exist to serve their needs. They use their power to manipulate or coerce others to fulfill their pleasure. The environment they create is unsafe and others secretly fear them.
Servant leadership focuses on the safety and welfare of the workers. They are not predators. Rather, they protect you and act swiftly to rid the environment from them.
Servant leaders also focus on meeting needs, and providing opportunities for growth for workers. Their mindset is: “It’s not about me. It’s about we.”
People respect and want to work harder for leaders who serve. Therefore, servant leaders have longevity and low turnover among workers.
Now it’s your turn
What other lessons can people in positions of power learn from #metoo? Leave your comments below.