What Spider-Man Could Have Taught Harvey Weinstein
With great power comes great responsibility.
This famous quote, spoken by Uncle Ben to a young Peter Parker (who would eventually become Spider-Man), has become a classic from the superhero world.
The same idea had been expressed years before Stan Lee originally wrote it, by people like Winston Churchill. But today we still associate it with the Spider-Man franchise.
And responsibility is a basic fact of leadership.
Being a leader means that others have invested in you. They have made themselves vulnerable to you. They believe in your potential. And they believe that you can help them grow and achieve something.
They want to be a part of your vision. And they are willing to give you more freedom and influence than they have in order to achieve that vision.
But with all of that freedom, influence and power, there is an implicit understanding: you have to take care of us.
The moment you don’t take care of others that you have power over, that is when they lose faith in you. And your power begins diminishing.
Power can come from many sources:
- Status/ title
- Social position
- Intelligence or a higher IQ
- Specialized knowledge
- Physical attractiveness
- Athletic prowess
- Physical size and strength
- Social intelligence and EQ
- Life experience
- Superior technology
- Being part of a large group, tribe or team
- Having a bigger network
- Having more trust from others
Since power has so many forms, even though you may be powerless in one situation, or with one person, you may have tremendous power in another.
Wherever your power comes from, you must recognize it and act responsibly.
This self-awareness is one of the first qualities every new leader must develop.
And it is something that Harvey Weinstein either lacked or willfully ignored.
I had barely heard of Harvey Weinstein before this current sexual harassment controversy. But apparently he had been a bully and an abusive, condescending prick for years throughout his career. With both men and women.
He managed to build a very successful company in the entertainment industry. And he did use his money and influence for good work and supporting charities.
But he also abused his power and harmed many people along the way. If women refused him sexual favors, he leveraged his power to cripple or end their careers in the industry.
Ultimately it came to a head this year, and led to his downfall as one of the most powerful men in Hollywood.
While it’s sometimes tempting to throw one’s weight around to get things done, it’s self-defeating behavior.
You don’t have to go to the extremes that Harvey Weinstein did with verbal and physical abuse in order to make this mistake.
Just by virtue of having power over others, every word you say carries greater weight. The impact of every action is magnified–both to the downside and the upside.
A brief compliment or expression of praise can make someone’s day. But a vaguely critical comment can send that same person into a spiral of self-doubt, stress and reduced productivity.
Sometimes criticism is necessary. But it must be done responsibly, intelligently and strategically.
We want to be a force for positivity, motivation and ultimately, sustainable results from our team.
It’s critical that we learn the lesson of the powerful who lack that self-awareness, and use our power correctly.