Friday, January 22, 2010

Marcial Maciel. Was he Corrupted by Power?

As I've written in other posts, my book about my legionary life tells of  my experiences. Those expereiences are colored by what I have learned about leadership and leaders working as a management consultant. How leaders get their power, how they manage it and how their power affects others is of interest to me. It seems that power corrupts, but it corrupts only those who think they deserve it

The following citation is from the Economist, referring to the eye-opening research of Dr. Lammers and Dr. Galinsky.  Does power corrupt? How did Fr. Maciel, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ manage the power bestowed on him?

"People with power that they think is justified break rules not only because they can get away with it, but also because they feel at some intuitive level that they are entitled to take what they want. This sense of entitlement is crucial to understanding why people misbehave in high office. In its absence, abuses will be less likely. The word “privilege” translates as “private law”. If Dr Lammers and Dr Galinsky are right, the sense which some powerful people seem to have that different rules apply to them is not just a convenient smoke screen. They genuinely believe it.

What explains hypocrisy is less obvious. It is known, though, from experiments on other species that if those at the bottom of a dominance hierarchy show signs of getting uppity, those at the top react both quickly and aggressively. Hypercrisy might thus be a signal of submissiveness—one that is exaggerated in creatures that feel themselves to be in the wrong place in the hierarchy. By applying reverse privileges to themselves, they hope to escape punishment from the real dominants. Perhaps the lesson, then, is that corruption and hypocrisy are the price that societies pay for being led by alpha males (and, in some cases, alpha females). The alternative, though cleaner, is leadership by wimps."

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