What does Forbes’ list of the world’s most powerful people have in common with ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’? Much more than you’d think. Both rely on our fascination with power and with those who wield it. And while Forbes and Star Wars offer very different views of power, your own business success could hinge on your ability to realize the Force—more specifically, your workForce.
How do we define power? Forbes poses that four criteria determine the powerful:
How many people do they have power over?
How much money do they control?
Does their influence extend across multiple regions, industries, or aspects of life?
Do they actively wield their power?
This view of power is based on external, objectively identifiable elements. This year, Forbes editors determined that 73 individuals, representing one per 100 million people on Earth, were the most powerful. A significant 41 of the 73 (56%) are from the business community.
2015 represented the seventh year this list was published. Over that period, Forbes has identified 147 individuals, with only 22 appearing each and every year. Is it a surprise that 15 of these 22 (68%) are business leaders? Probably not.
Business success has always been all about influence and external power. Until now.
The Star Wars franchise offers a very different view of true power. Back in 1977, Obi Wan Kenobi offered the first description of an incredible power called the Force. “It’s an energy force created by all living things. It surrounds us; penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” Obi Wan offered no objectively identifiable criteria.
The Force is internal. In Star Wars, true power comes from inside an individual and exists only because of one’s relationships with others and life around them. Master Yoda explains, “A powerful ally the Force is. Life creates it, makes it grow. You must feel the force around you. Between you and me. The tree. The rock. Everywhere. Yes.”
Those who learn to be with the Force are the most powerful. They become Jedi warriors. At one point in the Star Wars series we learn over 10,000 individuals have become Jedis through the study of discipline and meditation.
Star Wars asserts that success comes from the internal power realized through harmony and by training to be one with the Force. Jedi warriors fully engage in their surroundings and serve others around them. And when needed, they wield the Force expertly.
But how can the Force help us in business?
Today, CEO surveys show their #1 concern is around people, culture, and engagement. Current estimates indicate that only a third of U.S. workers are fully engaged, costing business a whopping $370 billion annually.
The good news is that research shows engagement can be positively influenced by anyone in an organization. If you commit to increasing the Force in your workforce, growth will follow. Future Forbes lists will be increasingly populated by business leaders who understand the need to support this different type of power, growth, sharing, and harmony. In many ways, it’s the key to the sustainable growth movement that is on the rise.
Naysayers in business would be wise to remember Darth Vader’s warning, “Don’t be too proud of this technological terror [the dreaded Death Star] you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.”
Cynics might also be reminded of Yoda’s wise counsel. Luke said, “I don’t believe it.” Yoda responded “That is why you fail.”