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The Will to (Em)Power

By René Freudenberg - Interlub Group


By Rene Freudenberg | CEO - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 13:00

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We can totally understand why “will to power,” an idea attributed to German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) gets a bad rap. If you think about it, since his writings on the subject gained popularity, a series of truly horrible, power-obsessed leaders from our past and present have not only left their historical mark on our society, but have also inspired managers, executives, and politicians to accumulate, hoard, and leverage power to stay in power.

Even though some have argued that the will to power is a destructive force that leads to conflict and oppression, we would like to invite you to explore the idea that the will to power can also be a positive and creative force that drives human progress and achievement. So, what if the will to power really is the fundamental force that drives humanity to excel? 

What Should We Do With Power?

We widely accept that leadership involves the use of power. We assume that what the previously mentioned tyrannical leaders have in common is the belief that power is finite and that, therefore, they must hoard it. But what if power is, in fact, an unlimited force that we can and should multiply?

In our experience, leaders who empower others aren’t only much more successful at inspiring and motivating their team, but also at triggering a sense of ownership and accountability and creating a more collaborative and innovative environment. On the other hand, leaders who hoard and control power tend to struggle more with gaining trust and support, thereby hindering their ability to achieve their goals.

For example, by distributing power within our organization, we’ve empowered our people to shape their careers, improve the connections between teams, and explore new ways to create value for our customers. This might just be the exponential force behind our evolution, growth, and industry impact. 

But what are the conditions we must create for our associates to bring about positive change when we empower them?

1. Sense of belonging

For distributed power to flow within our organization, it was vital to create a sense of belonging. A clear identity improves engagement, motivation, and communication. Also, it’s helped in building trust and improving team effectiveness. Leaders who fail to create a sense of belonging usually reap a lack of cohesion and unity that hinders teams’ effectiveness and productivity.

Having dedicated much time over the last 10 years to consciously articulating and forging our shared identity and values has facilitated our decision-making and response to the COVID-19 crisis (here), increased our confidence in making bold R&D investments, and fostered our international expansion to over 40 countries.

2. Shared understanding

The second principle that is vital for our organizational evolution is building context. Setting a framework for shared understanding provides clarity for everybody on how we define success, the reasons behind decisions, providing relevant background information, and outlining the implications of different courses of action. By building context, our most effective leaders ensure that everyone is on the same page and serves as a guiding North Star for our journey. This has helped in building trust, improving communication, and fostering interdisciplinary collaboration.

This principle has inspired different teams within our organization to come up with ever-surprising new ways to create, deliver, and capture value that goes beyond our expectations (i.e., becoming global pioneers in supra-lubrication).

3. Constructive dialogue

While people need clarity on where the journey’s going, it’s equally important to remember that engaged associates want to be heard by their leaders. Therefore, relying solely on inspiring monologues isn’t sufficient to effectively lead and manage our organizations. Encouraging constructive dialogue within our organization has been vital for our evolution. It has improved information flow, our teams’ capabilities to solve problems, and increased collaboration within and across teams. Moreover, it has contributed to improving decision-making and engaging individual contributors from all areas of our organization.

For example, by having recently introduced Brain Trusts, a practice pioneered by Pixar (read more here), we haven’t only fostered more constructive dialogue across teams, but have also learned how to improve our organizational capability to communicate more openly and honestly. It also helped us to tap into the collective wisdom and expertise of many team members to actively shape our strategic agenda for the coming years and empower many individuals to propose initiatives to unleash our full potential.

Empower = Real Power

By distributing power, creating a sense of belonging, framing context, and encouraging constructive dialogue within our organizations, we can create friction-less and more productive work cultures. Giving our talent permission to express their will to power (i.e., how they want to contribute to our organizational success) in a coordinated manner not only increases collaboration, unity, and open communication, but also leads to positive change and a brighter future for ourselves and those around us.


In collaboration with: Daniel Pandza

About the authors

René Freudenberg is CEO and Daniel Pandza is Director of Brand Communications at Interlub Group | The Uncommon Lubricant Company®. Their organization has been awarded on three occasions by the president of Mexico for its contributions to the export of Mexican technology to over 40 countries (Premio Nacional de Exportación, 2017), for their innovative and competitive business model (Premio Nacional de Calidad, 2018), and the National Technology and Innovation Award (2019).

Photo by:   René Freudenberg

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