Power Connects People

Side Effects of Holding Power

When you think about people who are strongly driven to acquire power, what kinds of things do you imagine they are after? Is power about having: influence over others, money, status, glory, independence, self-confidence?

Popular stories in our culture like to distinguish power seekers from relationship seekers—people whose primary motivation is to foster connections and intimacy with others. The power and relationship motives are usually depicted as incompatible, where power is achieved at the expense of having relationships. As prime examples, think about the main characters in films like Citizen Kane, Scarface, and The Social Network. These stories tell us that power seeking is driven by self-centered ambitions, and as long as this motive is strong, the relationship seeking motive will be weak.

We forget that the rewards of power and the rewards of relationships overlap. We forget that power connects people to one another, and the more powerful person usually reaps the rewards of these relationships. Having power means having favorable connections to others.

Imagine a typical power imbalance in the workplace. A company hires two people to run a newly-created department at the company: Mr. Alpha is brought in to head the new department and Mr. Beta is hired as second in command. Mr. Alpha is given the power to fire and/or promote Mr. Beta, making Mr. Beta dependent on Mr. Alpha’s approval. Their jobs have established this connection between them, and we can be fairly certain that their interactions will be more pleasant for Mr. Alpha than Mr. Beta. Mr. Beta will be more accommodating, deferential, and experience more anxiety about saying or doing the wrong things.

As it happens, Mr. Alpha has relocated from across the country to take this job, and feels isolated in his new city. Mr. Alpha’s not a bad guy, but he insists that he and Mr. Beta take all their coffee breaks and go out on all sales calls together, just so Mr. Alpha can have the interpersonal contact. Mr. Beta goes along without complaining. After a few weeks Mr. Alpha begins to feel less isolated in his surroundings, having established some camaraderie.

In power imbalances, the more powerful person can usually set the terms of the relationship and build rapport without much resistance. This may not create close authentic bonds, but don’t underestimate the appeal of casual interactions with people who are courteous and attentive to you. These interactions should be especially appealing to men, who tend to be more satisfied with shallow relationships than women.

The point is that these relationships can be rewarding, and ultimately strengthen the allure of power. For some people, the promise of social connections may even be the hidden force behind their desire for power, especially for people who have trouble establishing connections under normal circumstances.

So even though the search for power and relationships are often portrayed as competing goals, it’s rarely that simple. Selfish goals may navigate the pursuit of power, but the motivation to connect with others is stronger than it seems, stronger than even the seeker realizes.


Published by Ilan Shrira


Attitude is Everything

In February 2012 Mars Venus Coaching is focusing its business articles on keeping the vision and passion alive at work. It’s no surprise that some of our motivation to show up for work is due to the paycheck we receive each month. However, I’d argue it is our ability to inspire ourselves to come to work ready to play with a fresh, fun attitude that determines how satisfied, successful, and productive we are day in and day out.

What sets a good company apart from a phenomenal one is the passion and joie de vivre it’s employees have towards their work and satisfying their customers.

Dan Schawbel on the Forbes blog at the end of January wrote Hire for Attitude, an insightful article about what Mark Murphy’s research and leadership training company Leadership IQ has found about the attitude of new hires predicting more of their success, rather than just skill set alone. The research found,

89% of the time it was for attitudinal reasons and only 11% of the time for a lack of skill. The attitudinal deficits that doomed these failed hires included a lack of coachability, low levels of emotional intelligence, motivation and temperament.

That’s right—having low levels of emotional intelligence, motivation, and temperament greatly influence how successful you and your employees will be in job performance. The great news is that emotional intelligence and gender intelligence are learned skills that anyone can pick up to buff up the social-emotional skill sets they already have from growing up and life experience. The vision of a company can only go as far as how well the people within the company work the business plan to carry out the company’s vision.

The quick question you can ask either yourself or any of your employees to gauge how passionate and motivated you all are to carry out your company’s vision is this:

How excited are you about coming to work each day to do your part of the job?

In the process of answering, if you find you and your employees laughing and joking as you answer the question…, then I’d venture to say you’re at the level of a great company doing pretty good things. And, if you’re not quite there yet, you and your employees can always get the spark back by enhancing your soft skill sets. If you want to set yourself apart from your competition, then hire people to up your ante with emotional and gender intelligence training. Why not include gender sales and buying too? It will put you over the edge to being an innovative and exciting company that will stand the test of time.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations

5 Ways Stress Affects Your New Year’s Resolutions

We often make New Year’s Resolutions at the stroke of midnight. We choose to improve things we’re unhappy with about ourselves. What we forget to think about is how stress affects whether or not we’ll actually follow through and stick with our resolutions for however long they’ll take to accomplish.

  1. We forget there are good (and bad) stressors that knock us off track.

Did you know there are two types of stressors: good and bad? Both cause an elevated spike in our stress-producing hormones: cortisol and adrenaline. We often forget that the good stressors can stress us out too. Even if we’re anticipating good stressors like: births, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, parties, and other celebrations…we can still end up feeling overwhelmed or anxious about the event. Our good intentions to follow-through on our resolution to exercise, lose weight, sleep more, eat healthy, invest money, etc., often are the first things to fall by the wayside.

  1. Stress is stress.

If our bodies have excess cortisol and adrenaline, then despite our best intentions, we find ourselves going back to old habits. Why? It’s easier, it feels safe, and our energy is going towards ridding our bodies of excess cortisol and adrenaline. It takes over 90 days for new behaviors to become automatic habits. When you’re resolving to do something new or different, concerted effort must be taken to think and then act on the new behaviors. If your motivation is down, then it becomes difficult to convince and hold yourself to carrying through with your new resolutions.

  1. We ignore our bodies’ warning signals…physically.

Fatigue, headaches, indigestion, migraines, weight gain, high blood pressure, clenched jaws, tight muscles, not being able to slow down/relax, and insomnia are signs of too much stress.

  1. We ignore our bodies’ warning signals…emotionally.

Feelings of being alone, overwhelmed, unsupported, anxious, ignored, unimportant, rushed, or angry means for:

Women—we do not have enough of our stress-producing hormone, oxytocin.

Men—we do not have enough of our stress-producing hormone, testosterone.

  1. We ignore our bodies’ warning signals…mentally.

We set ourselves up for failure when we heed the negative talk in our heads.  Fogginess, confusion, and black and white/all-or-nothing thinking are signs that your brain is not working at peak capacity.


  • When making your resolutions, plan around and anticipate that BIG life events (good stressors) will happen sometime during the year.
  • Make your resolutions have specific start and end dates.
  • Pencil in the dates on your calendar for the fun and happy events (good stressors) that you already know will occur.
  • Plan down-time into your life, so you can off-set stress and replenish your stress-reducing hormones. You need to do stress-reducing activities daily to keep stress levels low.
  • Sit down with your calendar, and write in your start and end dates for your resolutions.
  • When you do have bad stressors happen—like accidents, deaths, illnesses—re-visit and re-define your new end date for your resolutions.
  • Find someone who can keep you accountable. When you ask someone to help keep you on track—make sure they are willing to give you feedback. When you’re held accountable and have access to objective constructive criticism to what’s working and what’s not working is a great way to fireproof your resolution and ensure 100% commitment to accomplishing your goal(s).

Life happens. When we’re able to roll with the unexpected changes, then we can do things pro-actively to work with both kinds of stressors so our stress levels remain low and our motivation high. It’s when we forget to plan ahead for the contingencies that we lose motivation.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations

Why Women Prefer Influence Over Power

By Joanne Cleaver | September 29, 2010

Since 1981, Joanne Cleaver has been reporting on all aspects of business for national and regional newspapers, magazines and websites. Numerous magazine and industry “best employers for women” lists use the equity index she developed to rank companies according to the presence (or not) of women in their executive ranks. She also leads the research firm Wilson-Taylor Associates, Inc., where her team measures and supports the advancement of women in accounting, cable, finance and other industries. Yes, she has an opinion: that when women fully engage in all business operations, companies will make more money in more ways.

View more

Why don’t women want to embrace the P word?

That’s P as in ‘power.’ Men don’t have that problem. They love it, which explains the entire Gordon Gekko franchise.

When consultant Maddy Dychtwald started looking at the rising economic power of women, she wasn’t surprised to detect their aversion to the ‘P’ word and corresponding affection for the ‘I’ word: influence. That’s why she named her book “Influence: How Womens Soaring Economic Power Will Transform Our World for the Better” (Hyperion, May 2010).

But she thinks that women are in the process of redefining influence and power, precisely because they are becoming more comfortable with their power. Power is about “owning, individually, and taking control. Influence is about taking that power and running it out all over the place,” she told me in a recent interview. “The three stages of economic power are survival, self-sufficiency, and influence with corporations and politicians. That’s the next step women will take.”

This year, with women becoming fully half the workforce, we’ve reached a tipping point; despite spotty traction in getting to parity in management,  Dychtwald thinks that the long-quantified “three women” dynamic on boards will catalyze womens’ widespread rise to senior positions. The “three women” dynamic is that one woman on a board (typically a group of 12 to 15) is a token. Two women often spark conflict, but when there are three or more women, collaboration breaks out and women substantively affect group dynamics and decisions.

Simply by being aware of that dynamic women can leverage it, she adds: “Use your influence not just for your own career, but for those around you and for your company and its direction.”


Creating a Character-Based Company the Mars Venus Way

We’re increasingly married to work. We spend most of our waking hours getting ready for work, going to work, working, driving home from work, doing ongoing professional development to get ahead at work, and unwinding from…work! The companies that incorporate core values into their business model are the places where people love going to work, and their customers love going to get a fix that they matter. Why? Companies that base their internal and external customer service on values, such as the ones Stephen Covey discusses in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, are successful. These companies are successful, because their services and products drive people together into a sense of connecting in a community of like-minded individuals.

So what are some of the core values that most people believe in?

  • Responsibility
  • Respect
  • Honesty
  • Accountability
  • Collaboration
  • Cooperation
  • Ethical
  • Teamwork
  • Trust
  • Quality
  • Dependability
  • Flexible
  • Adaptability
  • Growth
  • Reliability
  • Fairness
  • Proactive
  • Visionary
  • Efficiency
  • Innovation
  • Caring
  • Service
  • Members
  • Fun
  • Education
  • Legal
  • Partnerships
  • Democratic
  • Value
  • Competitive
  • Professionalism
  • Balance
  • Training
  • Relationships
  • Competency
  • Citizenship
  • Loyalty
  • Prudence
  • Stewardship
  • Strength
  • Confidentiality

The question you have to ask is how can my business meet their needs? What are we doing to meet ____ need? How do we convey these values to our internal and external customers? How do we create this climate? How do we market what we care about? How does the community we work in benefit? If you’re able to weave the values listed above into the fiber holding your business together, then you naturally become a business based on character.

One way that Mars Venus coaches help businesses incorporate these values is by asking the tough questions. They find where you are dissatisfied, and encourage you to find solutions and be proactive. Coaching is different than consulting because coaches help to motivate and provide accountability so businesses, and the individuals within them, reach their full potential.

Another way Mars Venus coaches help businesses to be a character-based company is by always paying attention to the glue which holds people together: communication. In order to have a healthy relationship that’s based on assertive communication, you must be a good listener, and able to see another person’s point of view without judging. They are personally trained by and use John Gray’s, PhD, material to help people have healthier relationships inside and out. Mars Venus coaches, whether they specialize in business, executive, or life areas, are trained to model and teach gender-based differences in the ways men and women:

  1. Use communication,
  2. React to and cope with stress,
  3. Buy products and services, and
  4. Sell products and services.

As I’ve stated in previous articles (Article #55:Innovation Drives Long-Term Success for Businesses), the success of a business also depends on its ability to adapt quickly to changing trends. So not only do businesses need to address how to make internal and external employees have a better quality of life, they also need to focus on innovation and creativity to stay competitive.

From reading the latest blogs on Forbes, bNET, and Financial Times the trend becomes apparent that the most fiscally successful businesses over time focus on character-based and values-based business models. In 2008, Bo Edvardsson and Bo Enquist published Values-based Service for Sustainable Business: Lessons from IKEA, which further details how important integrating core values are when creating a sustainable business. The best way to incorporate values-based services into your business is by having someone help you create measurable action plans (Mars Venus Coaching uses 90-Day Action Plans) and provide accountability to ensure you stay true to your core values when pursuing your vision in everyday activities.

Another way for businesses to increase quality of life for their internal employees is to partner with a life coach. Did you know Zappos.com does just this—they’ve hired a life coach as an employee! Who else has such great customer service, free shipping and returns, and often next day service?! While business and executive coaches can provide assistance with intra- and inter-personal relational dynamics—life coaches specialize in this component. It’s something to think about, right? It’s outside of the box right now in regards to how businesses do business. Just like gender intelligent buying/selling is innovative, so is hiring life coaches on staff. As an employee and a consumer, what do the trends say to you? As a forward-thinker, how would you then implement a solution like this for business sustainability?

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations

Mars Venus Coaching Your Top Ten Priorities

Do you ever find yourself in what feels like a constant state of overwhelm? At Mars Venus Coaching we talk a lot about overwhelm and how to manage it. Are you spending enough time on what is important to you, or do your activities take you away from what really matters to you? Do you know if what you do on a day-to-day basis reflects or masks your best self? Mars Venus Coaches find many people in our line of work who are dissatisfied with the way their life is running. Either people do not have enough time to spend with those they love or doing the things that they love. Instead, they are either running from one small fire to the next dousing the fires as they come up, reacting to the way their life is going rather than taking up the reins with intention on the direction they want their life to go. This can cause people quite a bit of stress in their daily lives.

Some of you may be thinking that you are in control of your life and relationships, and while right this second, you don’t have enough time in your day to do what your heart desires—you’ll get to it the next day. But, the question is, will you? Based on your past history and following through on your goals, will you be able to get there by yourself? How do you hold yourself accountable to do the hard work of change?

Let’s do a quick – Mars Venus Coaching – check-in. Before reading the rest of the article, right now tear your paper into four pieces.

  • On the first piece of paper write down the top ten things you must complete by the end of today.
  • On the next piece of paper write down the top ten things you must complete by the end of this week.
  • On the third piece of paper write down the top ten things you must complete by the end of this month.

Are you wondering what this is all about? How often do you write down your tasks? Does your “must complete” list match up with what you think you will accomplish in the specified time frames? Is it more of a wish list or a to-do list that every task will be crossed off by the end of the day, week, or month? Just think about these things, because I’d like you to do something else with the last piece of paper.

  • On the last piece of paper write down the top ten things most important for you to be or accomplish in your life.

Oh. Hmm. Well, first how does it feel to think for a few minutes about what inspires, motivates, and excites you. Take the previous three pieces of paper I first asked you to fill out—and looking at the last list you wrote circle the tasks on your previous three pieces of paper that are in alignment with your last priority list.

How many items are circled? Are there 5, 10, 20, or 30 items circled?

What you are doing right now is looking to see whether your daily activities are in alignment with your higher self, or the part of you that desires to accomplish/give back to others. If your daily activities do not reflect your last list you made, then there is inconsistency. This is something a life coach could help you realize as well as help hold you accountable to.

From your first list tear each task off so you have 10 free standing tasks. Now, order these according to how you can get through these needed tasks the quickest so you can get to doing more of what you need to do in order to bring the fourth list to fruition. As you tear up the task list, realize you are in control of both what you choose to do with your time, and what priority you place on making the fourth list a reality on a daily basis.

I had you do task lists for the whole week, and then the whole month. Do the same thing. Tear up each list into ten individual tasks/pieces and re-organize. What you can also do as well—if you find some of the “must complete” tasks are:

  • no longer that urgent, or
  • you can wrap up, or
  • disengage from by the end of the month

—take those tasks away.

Remember I asked at the beginning if you were overwhelmed or if you were stressed out? We have to remember there are only 24 hours in a day. We need 7-8 hours of sleep. We also need time to relax and replenish our stress-reducing hormones. Oxytocin needs to be produced for women to reduce their stress. Testosterone needs to be produced for men to reduce their stress. If you feel overwhelmed or fatigued, you are stressed out. Something must come off your list. Something must change if you’d like to focus more on your fourth list.

Guess what? You can’t add any more tasks. You’re going to have to do both a one-for-one trade and most likely take away tasks so that you are getting the required down time and sleep so your body doesn’t tear itself apart like you tore up your task list. It’s your call. There are people out here who hold people accountable to make these life changes so your quality of life improves, your relationships at work and home get better, and your goals turn from dreams into reality. It’s possible if you value your worth enough. We have several online workshops available that provide more insight such as the above information. Check out our Mars Venus Workshops at www.marsvenusworkshops.com.

Lyndsay Katauskas

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations

Overcoming Bias: Putting Your Brain Plasticity to Work!

2.1.11 http://www.bnet.com/blog/business-research?tag=mantle_skin;content

Reply to Why Women Can’t Raise Capital for their Businesses/Kimberly Weisul

Both discrimination and bias are factors in investment and leadership decisions. However, what’s really at work behind women not being at the top, or getting enough financial backing for their ventures is a failure in communication due to our expectations of the type of climate and culture the corporate world should be operating from and the actual reality. The corporate world has done little to honor, respect, and embrace women’s unique style of communicating in the male-created corporate culture. Yes, there has been Equal Opportunity, but the actual culture and dynamics has changed little. Now women, and some men too, can take leave after having a new baby, but aside from this perk, little has changed in regards to understanding how we communicate differently, and how we can use these communication differences to the advantage of the corporate world. Margaret Heffernan’s blog today about Are You Biased? Of Course You Are relates to what you are discussing in your blog, about how people make investment and leadership decisions based on preconceived notions and judgments many of us are subconsciously unaware that we make in a blink of the eye. When people make a decision, if they are unaware of their biases, then the decision is often made due to three things. When we are unaware of our judgments as Margaret Heffernan writes about we are operating blindly because the lens with which we make our decisions is foggy. Instead of making a decision based on what in reality the actual facts are about investing in said venture or hiring a person based on their merits (regardless of their gender) we often make decisions out of ignorance. We let the filters of: (1) past experiences, (2) unrealistic expectations, and (3) unexamined assumptions get the best of us. Lump discrimination and bias in there too—they fit into all three of the above categories.

My question to you is whether or not we should focus on these studies of unfairness proving the point there is an equality problem, or whether we should focus our attention and energy on correcting why it is happening instead. What we are commenting on and what we see occurring at the most basic level is a failure in communication. What I mean by this firstly is whoever is making a point tends to be operating from the combined three filters listed above. Secondly, the failure in communication also pertains to how we interact with each other, and whether or not we can get beyond the pettiness and voices in our heads, to actually deal with whatever or whomever is in front of us at the present time. I’m interested to know if the studies were designed by men or women. Why I say this—is because as women writing about gender bias and discrimination, we are writing from our own filter based on our experiences, and also our unrealistic expectations and unexamined assumptions surrounding women’s rights and the misleading idea that men and women are the same. I am also curious about who designed the studies, because even if men designed the studies, they are operating from the same misnomer. Research in academia requires a section for lessons learned, as well as solutions to the hypothesis posed. In learning how to operate from the present moment with our glasses/filters removed, we all have to accept no one is perfect. The easiest way to grow from experience is to pay attention to the solutions of what has worked the best in the past. So, I am interested in who wrote the studies, and why we are focusing on what’s unfair, instead of what works. Studying and discussing the best case scenarios. Let’s learn from our mistakes, talk about what is working right as it pertains to keeping, promoting, and letting women rise in the workforce so there is equal representation. Incidentally, the women on Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women List are the ones who have embraced their unique style of communicating and used this as a strength to promote their brand’s name. Let’s focus on the solution to spread the success.

We are at a point in history where we can now agree and acknowledge men and women are different, they are no less equal as far as rights are concerned, but each and every person is a unique and different human being. The companies on the Fortune 500 list excel above and beyond their competition, because they are embracing the concept of gender intelligent communication as a means to create balance within their company. Instead of focusing our attention (some may even say complaints) on the numbers not adding up, we should focus our attention on how to raise each other up and incorporate gender intelligent communication so the pressing question is not “why does discrimination (and bias) influence investment and leadership decisions,” but “how can we create more success for our businesses by incorporating the unique qualities women bring to the table in the corporate world?” Every great leader knows it is the relationships between their people internally, and in how they provide customer service to their buyers externally that makes their venture successful. When men and women operate in the workplace from a place of mutual respect and understanding of how their differences in communication compliments and adds to their productivity and efficiency, then the assumptions and expectations will be realistic, instead of based on discrimination or bias. And in time our past experiences will mirror this reality, and we will no longer have the discussion of why men and women are not in and at the top of the workforce in equal numbers.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Mars Venus Success Coach