Wealth gives power, not authority

Dec 22, 2021 | Insights

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Wealth is a source of power and necessary for change but the authority to create change must be earned.
North Yorkshire in England, where I live, is a largely rural county home to many agricultural and game estates. The wealth of these large landowners, often trusts or corporations, provides them with the power to run their estates in their own way.

It’s interesting to see how this power is realised in real life and in the farms, homes, and villages these estates own.

Power without authority

For instance, the owners of an estate close to where I live recognise the power that derives from their ownership of 2,500 acres and use that power to ensure nothing changes. They see the village they partially own as a source of rental income and do very little to help or support the village. Those who rent properties from the estate are unwilling to react to this for fear of losing their homes.

This estate certainly has power but no authority. As such, the estate owners are despised and ridiculed. Indeed, the head of the estate has a nickname in the village which, in good Yorkshire speak, is not repeatable on this post.

Power and authority

Down the road, other estates take a different approach. Again, they have power derived from their asset; however, they also accept responsibility to those whose livelihoods they control in part. This means understanding the needs of their tenants and the surrounding countryside, providing help, support and employment where possible and working in partnership with those connected to the estate. These estates recognise that to use power effectively requires wisdom and understanding. This wisdom and understanding provide them with the power and authority to create and manage effective, beneficial change.

In all its forms, whether financial, skills, education, contacts, mindset, networks or health, wealth provides the power to create change and make a difference. However, that power only works if it comes with authority and responsibility.

Photo: Getty Images

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