Systems in which power and responsibility are not bound to each other are dangerous and certain to be ridden with conflict, both open and concealed.
Dr. William Glasser, in positing his “Reality Therapy” model, said that there are 5 basic needs: survival, belonging, power, freedom, and fun. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reality_therapy
Most behaviorists attribute every behavior by every person to one of three functions: get something good, avoid something bad, or provide release of pent-up feelings.
Power, then, might be called another person’s ability to give you what you want (love, money, sex, friendship, security, etc) or take away what you want or to force upon you or exempt you from something that you don’t want (extra work, fear, pain, common hassles).
Many professionals make power even more complicated, of course, and talk about various kinds of power http://www.hrbartender.com/2010/training/7-types-of-power-in-the-workplace/.
Responsibility is much harder to define.
Most dictionaries will only give you a synonym, like “accountability.” Fair enough, but then what is accountability?
It’s a big, scary deal, whatever it is. Americans spend a lot of money on lawyers fighting over who has responsibility for what, to what degree. The ethics branch of philosophy spends much of its effort on questions of responsibility. There are dozens of tricks available to the individual human mind for the purpose of denying responsibility for one’s own wrong and ugly acts.
In counseling, crisis comes when those tricks fail. This moment often brings sweat and tears followed by rapid and profound change. Whoever is responsible for making a mess of your life also, by rule, has the power to clean it up.
So we know that responsibility is this awesome, powerful thing that often lurks in the shadows but has the power to transform a life. Whether you “accept” it or “claim” it or whatever the latest pop-psych word is, you have responsibility, but what is it?
Responsibility is the fact that you actually did what you actually did and the knowledge that your action had the consequences that it had. It’s highly unlikely that the T key on this computer will give an electric shock to my neighbor so I am not responsible for his pain until I learn that…..T…..but if I shovel snow off my car into his parking space, I am responsible for the wrong that I have caused him.
Responsibility is inherent to any willful act and persons who routinely understand their own responsibility are care-filled and safe to be around. When the mind or system is sick then others are in danger and they are scared and that will cause conflicts.