Hard vs soft power and the road to success

Excercise soft power when in position of controlling hard power.

Joseph Nye, a professor of politics at Harvard University, recently published ‘The Powers to Lead’. He summarises the theories of wise leadership practice: You’ll need to be able to be in the position of controlling hard power in order to exercise your soft leadership skills. That’s when you’ll make people do what you want them to do, however, them being the driver behind it. Not you.

Nye suggests three main conclusions to keep in mind when reflecting about leadership:

  1. Be sensitive to people needs and emotions. People are people, not machines. Handle relations, don’t ignore them.
  2. Understand the significance of the context where actions take place.
  3. Understand the other, as good old Emile Durkheim (one of the founders of sociology once upon a time).

Read a more highbrow review of Joseph Nye’s book at the Economist web site. Alternatively, check out Stein Ringen’s comment in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.

Hard vs soft power and the road to success

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