Redefining Power - Athena’s Purpose in the World
The Athena Group is actively engaged in a journey of reinvention into a self-organizing for purpose enterprise with an even more clarified purpose. So Athena consultants gathered at my house on a beautiful Olympia day and worked to get clear on our shared purpose. Consultants from Evolution at Work facilitated our all-day gathering, helping us distill our conversation down to two meaningful words:
That is the new, clarified purpose that is calling forward the work of The Athena Group. I went to bed that night satisfied with our day together, having landed on something so meaningful.
The next morning, I woke up and began to draft the summary of our full-day of work for the members unable to attend: Power Redefined!? Really?! We spent all day and came up with just two words? Once I sent the email, one of our consultants responded with something like, “Really? Our clients aren’t going to buy that!”
Oh, the emotional roller coaster of building something so powerful together. So, I checked in with myself. What is so important about that statement? How does it make me feel? What do I imagine would be different? What sensations are in my body when I imagine that?
What Does it Feel Like?
Redefining power is shifting away from “power over” to “power with.” This statement is so important in this day and age when global superpowers are reverting back to strongman techniques of control and authoritarianism. Democracy, humanity, civility, and earth are at stake. That seems PRETTY DARN important.
Redefining power makes me feel my own power. I feel energized. I feel at peace with what is, and I feel connected with others. I feel like I have the inner strength to do what is mine to do, the compassion to be supportive of others in their journey, and the wisdom to let go of things that no longer serve.
I imagine that when power is redefined, people will feel more joy in their work, and leaders will have the permission to shine in every role. Communities will come together to address large-scale social problems civilly and collaboratively. Systems of oppression that have insidiously hindered progress and equity for people of color, women, immigrants and others for centuries will be further revealed and dismantled.
My body feels like it can breathe when I imagine this world. I feel like I belong. I feel like we all belong. So yes – ‘Redefining Power’ are two simple words that means EVERYTHING to The Athena Group.
I don’t know if clients are going to buy it or not. But who wouldn’t want to buy different and better ways to lead, joyful workplaces, and healthy communities?
Walking the Talk.
It’s one thing to sell it, but it’s another thing to practice it. If we are truly going align everything we do with the purpose of ‘Power Redefined’, The Athena Group has to walk the talk.
In most organizations, power is embedded with just a few people at the top of the organization, operating under the dominant bureaucratic and hierarchical organizational structures. The people at the bottom of the structure are at the mercy of the people at the top. Even enlightened, collaborative hierarchies that have “empowered” their employees are still holding the strings, for better or for worse – depending upon the string holder.
That is why The Athena Group is changing our organizational structure to be a self-organizing holacracy; it seems more reasonable for a smaller organization making big changes.
Each one of our partners will energize multiple roles with defined purpose, decision making domains, and accountabilities. We will be holding tactical and governance meetings at which time we will process organizational tensions - defined as the gap between what is and what is desired to help our organization deliver on our purpose.
We are also redefining power in our legal and financial agreements too, where financial and time commitments of each partner are valued and recognized. Eventually, I will be ceding my CEO title and autonomous power to an organizational constitution that governs how our organization makes decisions, shares power and authority, and gets quality work done.
No CEOS, no managers, no bosses. Just smart colleagues following a set of agreed upon rules. Now that’s radical wisdom.
I don’t pretend this is going to be easy, or for that matter, wildly successful. But if we don’t try, we risk being just another company selling the same things for the same reasons. There is too much at stake to ignore the old ways of leading. It’s time to Redefine Power.
Let’s Do This.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Faith Trimble is the current CEO and founding partner of The Athena Group. Her professional mission is to create and host a place for people to do great work in the world as they let all of their being shine.