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Ken Adelman
Political advisor

Ken Adelman

A Reagan-era Ambassador and Arms Control Director, Ken Adelman is co-founder and vice-president of Movers and Shakespeares, which offers executive training and leadership development.

What you get when you give power away

Question: Put yourself in the shoes of an autocratic Middle Eastern leader: Let peaceful protests continue and you could easily wind up out of power, like Egypt's Mubarak. Or get tough with the protests and you'll certainly lose popular and international support. What's the best strategy for holding onto power without harming the country?

This article is coauthored by Kenneth Adelman and Michael Useem.

Not that we want any of the autocrats to retain state power. They should all consider packing their carry-on bags for a one-way trip to the Maldives. But if they had wanted create a reputational power, to be long remembered for what they have done for their country rather than themselves, they would have been wise to have given away their state power long before the necessity now of heading for their last flight out.

Here's the irony, with much experience and research to back it up. Giving away is one of the surest ways to gain back. Companies that are more generous with their contributions to the community on average prove more profitable. Managers that delegate more authority to their subordinates acquire more authority with their subordinates. Governments that vest more democratic control in their citizens instill greater support among their citizens.

If the autocrats of the Middle East or anywhere had been thinking strategically, they would have taken such steps years ago, giving away to gain back, not for themselves but for their country's legacy. Had they brought that future into the present, they would not now be needing to purchase the one-way ticket out.

This Shakespeare realized 400-plus years ago. In Merchant of Venice is a contest for the fair Portia's hand. The first two choices emphasize gaining and getting but they prove to be wrong. The third answer demands giving. That's the right answer, and it wins her hand.

By Ken Adelman

 |  February 22, 2011; 10:20 AM ET
Category:  Crisis leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: What you get when you give power away | Next: Second chances are sometimes possible


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i would wipe out the indigenous population and place the remnants of them on reservations... then i would enslave whatever "races" required to build monuments to the great racists of my race... then i would free the slaves except abide by policies that keep them - except for a token few - in obviously subservient positions (of course the tokens would serve my agenda - which i and my media would never refer to as "racist"...)...

I would create the illusion of "equal protection" under law - except that “When the custody of children [or anything else I decide...] is the question … the best interest of the children [or some other interest of my choosing...] {shall be} the paramount fact. [Constitutional and inalienable] rights of father and mother [or whatever class of citizens i declare...] sink into insignificance before that.” Kartman v. Kartman, 163 Md. 19, 22,161 A. 269 (1932) - the names of the cases would be subject to the victims that come before my court...

in short, i would run my nation so that it appears to provide "freedom", balance of political powers, and "justice" except that only the wealthy of my race would enjoy freedom - so long as they 'served both to discriminate against ethnic minorities and to maintain advantages and benefits for the members of my race.'

I would do what "white" Americans do!

I would ensure that "black" women and girls feel better about themselves whenever they abandon loving the natural texture of thier own hair and instead straighten it to appear more "white" American - like the First Lady and her children: Sasha and Malia (all in the best interest of the children of course)

What you get when you give power away in an illusive manner is a Black President who encourages all the female members of his family - including the youngest of children - to discourage themselves and their children from experiencing the free and natural love and affection they and their children would have for the natural texture of their own hair - so thay can appear to be accepted amoung those who in reality hold real power...

judeo-christian white supremacist politics and media is What you get when you give power away to judeo-christian European-American supremacist ideology, policy, and practice...

hey, what do you think about 'saving' the last of the ancient migration paterns of animals or the 'way of life' for tribes whose lifestyles has survived for 10,000 years or more?

kill all the animals and straighten the hair of any wooly haired tribesmen? lol

Posted by: stephendavid2002 | February 27, 2011 7:07 AM
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