Over the past week, I’ve read and listened to numerous reports surrounding former Q host Jian Ghomeshi. It seems that every day new allegations come to the surface, ranging from stories of inappropriate flirting in the workplace to downright sexual harassment and violence. What started as one woman coming forward resulted in a tidal wave of others – ranging from Canadian actor Lucy DeCoutere and author Reva Seth, to a host of aspiring media grads who were afraid to report Ghomeshi’s behaviour because of how it might affect their future careers. Each have recounted eerily similar experiences with the successful and popular radio show host.
After his dismissal from the CBC, Ghomeshi took to facebook and hired representation for his defense, but a few days later the crisis management experts and public relations firm both dropped him as a client. The police have opened up a formal investigation, which will hopefully get to the bottom of it all.
In the midst of the media storm, I’ve been contemplating the stewardship of power. At a leadership conference a few years ago, I heard Andy Stanley ask a thought-provoking question while speaking about influence:
“What do you do when it dawns on you that you are the most powerful person in the room?”
All of us have been in this position at one time or another. If we have children under our care or staff under our leadership, we are in a position of power. If we have followers on social media, money in our wallet, or the ability to speak English, we are in a position of power. If we have physical strength, sharp intellect, infectious charisma, we are in a position of power. If we possess a skill, hold a political office, or have a wide network of relationships, we are in a position of power.
This means that we are constantly stepping into moments where we are the most powerful person in the room, so to speak. Do we recognize our power? Do we intentionally steward our influence? How do we put safeguards in place that prevent us from taking advantage of others?
If the allegations against Jian Ghomeshi are found to be true, it means that he leveraged his power to manipulate and even hurt others for his own selfish purposes. Though behaviour like this is absolutely unacceptable, we must remember that none of us are immune to slipping into patterns of misusing influence.
Let us not leverage power for our own sake, but for the sake of others.