Understanding Health Power

Understanding Healthy Power: An Introduction

by Nathaniel Whitestone // November 7, 2023  

Healthy Power is a transformative concept that calls for a shift in how power is exercised and perceived in organisations and communities. It is not about dominance or control but about empowering every individual within a system. Nathaniel Whitestone and colleagues at the Healthy Power Alliance define it as power that “increases the power and wellbeing of everybody involved,” emphasising collaborative growth and shared success.

Extra Resource:

Dive into the concept of Healthy Power with experts Nathaniel Whitestone, John Buck, and Pete Burden. This video explores the transformation from traditional toxic power dynamics to collaborative, nurturing leadership. Plus at the end of this blog you’ll find links to videos and podcasts on Neighborocracy and more!

What is Healthy Power?

Healthy Power is the ability to know and accomplish one’s goals in a way that increases the power and wellbeing of everybody involved, the communities and ecosystems as well as the individuals and organisations.

Healthy Power shows up in systems where power is circular, fluid, and consensual.

Power is circular where a web of mutual influence enables each person or group to lead the others. If there’s “power over”, that power runs both ways, and thus becomes “power with”. 

This circular power is how great leaders actually lead and healthy communities actually function — forget about the nonsense myths of saints and heroic CEOs who have all the answers without listening to anyone because they are somehow one with the Source, or about “flat organisations” where nobody has any special expertise or influence. Neither of those exists in the real world. When people try to create make everyone fall in line with the insights of a brilliant leader, tragedies follow. When people try to make a community where nobody’s more special than anyone else, nothing gets done… or people just follow the guidance of influential people while refusing to admit they’re doing so.

Power is fluid when nobody owns it as a personal asset. Nobody is entitled to power; power is delegated by the organisation or community to those best suited to exercising it at a particular time. This might be the visionary founder! Or it might be someone else. 

Power is consensual when the people who are affected by it get a chance to say “yes please” or “no thanks”. This is different from the coercive tricks or outright force that are the norm in our society, and particularly in the world of work.

Taken together, these differences enable a high-integrity way of working and living that can replace the ills of modern life with a truly flourishing society.

The Role of Sociocracy in Cultivating Healthy Power

Sociocracy, a governance system that distributes leadership and emphasises consent-based decision-making, is a practical approach to achieving Healthy Power. It fosters transparent communication and collective management, allowing for distributed authority and increased individual agency.

Although Sociocracy is not the only way of cultivating Healthy Power, it’s worth adopting Sociocracy or a similar form of governance as an underlying framework that enables various other practices, from Agile working methods to Non Violent Communication, to be impactful together.

Stay tuned as we delve deeper into the practice of Healthy Power and how it can reshape our societal landscape.


Healthy Power Manifesto

We face a profound choice:
to continue with the ways of toxic power which we inherited,
or to build a world together where power is healthy for all.


We all love power.
We all suffer from toxic power.


Healthy Power is circular, not linear or flat.
Healthy Power is fluid, not frozen.
Healthy Power is consensual, not coercive.


Healthy Power is the ability to do work over time
in a way that is good for all the people and systems involved:
the ecosystems, the human communities, the customers, the workers, the
investors, the leaders,
all of us.


Healthy Power is not an alternative.
It is our future.


The Future is here. We Have Numerous Models of Healthy Power.
If you are committed to bringing healthy power to your workplace or your
community,
you are already leading the shift to a world where power works for everyone.


It can be done. It must be done. We are doing it
We invite you to join us


Foundations of the Healthy Power Alliance

The Healthy Power Alliance was conceived in 2014 as a catalyst for change, and as a learning community bringing together practitioners in organisations and communities, consultants with expertise in developing healthy power, and academics interested in both theory and practice.

Join us in redefining power for the common good and make the commitment to be a part of the global transformation towards a healthier, more just world.

If you want to stay in the conversation, fill in this brief questionnaire! We’ll be in touch.
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1EV7zVc8rWUEWjfTg64qZI84zP0v-YnN0ZOZYNrcKdT4/edit


More Resources

PODCAST: Neighborocracy – an Indian success story in grassroots governance https://pod.link/1534854798/episode/a2e61cdde354d98e95b7cc10529d54b9

VIDEOS: Joseph Rathinam And Neighbourhood Democracy https://citizen-network.org/library/joseph-rathinam-ndm.html

PODCAST: Joseph Rathinam (Part 1): Neighborocracy- Global Governance From Below https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-neighboring-movement-podcast/id1450320068?i=1000632478432

BLOG: What a healthy workplace looks like https://afairersociety.com/what-a-healthy-workplace-looks-like/


Help to spread the word about Better Places to Work. Follow, like and share our mission across social media.

Nathaniel Whitestone
Nathaniel Whitestone
Co-Founder of A Fairer Society

Nathaniel Whitestone is a governance expert, OD/OT consultant, executive coach, and angel investor, committed to fostering Healthy Power in organizations. He thrives on unraveling complex systems, guiding leaders to innovate with integrity and playful revolution. His passion lies in seeding societal transformation towards empowerment and fairness.

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