Power and bad times in your life

Oct 15 2013 Published by under Careers, Life

I'm a white male full professor. I have power. I have power over more junior faculty, staff, the people in my lab. I review manuscripts and grant proposals, and sit on review panels. I can help or hinder, even break someone's career.

That's not bragging. It's power that comes with the position. All faculty have such power over those below them in the academic hierarchy. The further up the ladder you climb, the more people there are below you and the more power you have.

It's something I try very hard to keep in mind at all times. In my interactions with junior faculty. Staff. The people in my lab. Reviewing grants and manuscripts. I know there's a power differential and it's something I need to wield with care.

I do my best to use what power I have to help those below me in the academic hierarchy to achieve their goals. You'll have to take my word for that.

I also have a wife and kids. A life. A life with its ups and downs.

So if I happen to be at a particularly low point in my life it's totally okay for me to forget about power differentials and all that stuff, right? It's alright for me to trash grants and manuscripts, abuse my lab personnel, vote against someone's tenure and promotion because my life sucks at the time, right?

Right?

Perhaps not.

Power doesn't give a shit about your personal life.

2 responses so far

  • DrugMonkey says:

    No it most certainly does not. Nor can it be checked at the door with your coat. Not even when you've been drinking.

  • Jim Thomerson says:

    When I became chair, I resolved never to become angry with students or my faculty. And I did not. Step in the right direction anyway.

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