Monday, September 25, 2023
HomeAbuse Of Power In The Workplace

Abuse Of Power In The Workplace

Abuse of power is the misuse of power by those in a position of authority. Abuse of power in the workplace is more common than one can imagine. An example is when a leader uses their position of authority to reward or reprimand people of lower status. This can include giving someone a choice assignment or giving them a poor performance review. Whether this is a personal decision or an action that is based on the leader’s personal feelings, it is abuse of power.

Abuse Of Power In The Workplace: What Is It?

Abuse of power is an evil act committed by those in positions of authority. Such individuals have the ability to force others to do things they would not otherwise do. They can also use their power to make bad decisions or exert influence on others. 

Abuse of power is not only bad for the victims, it can also harm the company or its reputation. This article will discuss some of the worst abuses of power that can happen within organizations.

Abuse of power is when a public official uses his power to resolve an issue in a way that benefits him. Such behavior typically involves a reward. For example, in the case of Oleksandr Presman, he received illegal compensation for a hotel room even though he owned his housing in Kyiv. 

Because of this, he was able to take advantage of his position to bribe a hotel manager to grant him the room. In addition, he violated the law by abusing his power to receive a hotel room.

The Root Causes

Source: TEDxTalk

Abuse of power is an unacceptable practice that results in anxiety and a sense of unease in society. This type of misconduct is sometimes referred to as malfeasance in office or official abuse of power. 

It occurs when a leader abuses their power to do something that is against the best interests of the organization or the people in it. The person abusing power has a higher position in the organization than those who report to him or her.

The first cause of abuse of power is that the perpetrator has a lot of power. Many employees do not realize the difference between wrong and right behavior and often end up encouraging it. 

The wrong behavior might include cleaning up after the perpetrator, staying in the office after hours, performing work, keeping secrets about illegal activity, or bullying in front of others. A clear example of this type of behavior is Book Harm. This type of behavior is a clear example of power abuse.

The Effects

A recent study published in the journal Applied Psychology suggests that the effects of abuse of power may be devastating for both the perpetrator and the victims. 

In the case of a victim of abuse of power, the effects may include lower morale, underdevelopment, and high employee turnover. It can also lead to a host of other negative effects, including stress-related illnesses and a decline in the company’s reputation. 

The effects of abuse of power may ultimately lead to a coup and the breakdown of the state. While there are many causes of abuse of power, the most common is a leader abusing his or her position for personal reasons. Sometimes a leader will be so enamored of power that they will abandon the rules of government or ignore laws altogether.  Power drunk leaders may loot the treasury and enrich themselves at the expense of their people. Others may decide to dictate the rules of the game to prolong their tenure in office.

How to Stop It?

Abuse of power can happen in any environment. The effects of abuse can include lower morale, frequent absenteeism, stress-related illness, and a high employee turnover.  Eventually, the abuse of power can damage the reputation of the company. If it occurs in the workplace, there are ways to deal with it. Here are some examples:

Power-struck syndrome, or power-hungry syndrome, can occur in any workplace, including a government setting. Leaders are responsible for creating the climate for this type of abuse. Harvey Weinstein was fired from his role at The Washington Post, even though the reputation damage he caused was more than enough to warrant the firing. It’s important to recognize power-struck syndrome early before it takes hold.

Abuse of Power in Real-Time Situations

When a person is in a position of power, it is possible to abuse that authority. Such actions can be categorized as malfeasance, usurpation, and public corruption. The use of power to gain an advantage can lead to the removal of a person from their position. 

Moreover, abuse of power can be a defining characteristic of corruption, a crime that can lead to a person’s removal from office. Inappropriate use of power occurs when a leader abuses his position to favor one person over another. It is a clear sign of ego and poor planning. Other examples of abuse of power include assigning an unqualified person a task and failing to meet deadlines. 

For instance, giving a poor performance review to a subordinate is an inappropriate punishment. A subordinate who refuses to take responsibility for a project is not fit for leadership.

The Types

Abuse of power comes in different forms, and here, you will learn about the types of abuse of power. Make sure to read till the end, because even mentors can be abusers.  Here are the most common types of abuse of power. 

Financial Abuse of Power

Financial abuse of power involves using authority or force to withhold or steal money from an individual or a group of persons. It is categorized as a form of domestic abuse. A leader can use his position to restrict the use of finances by specific persons. When this happens, financial abuse of power is said to have taken place. Below are some of the signs of financial abuse of power.

  • Enforcing power of attorney on their selves
  • Preventing withdrawal of funds
  • Embezzlement of funds
  • Overusing credit cards
  • Demanding for paychecks

Emotion Abuse of Power

Emotional abuse is often used interchangeably with psychological abuse. However, they differ greatly from one another. Emotion abuse of power is using non-physical behavior to oppress or control owing to influential positions or power. Also, this type of abuse has no physical evidence but leaves the victim isolated, oppressed, and frightened.

It also breaks down the victim’s self-esteem. Here are some of the signs that involve emotional abuse of power.

  • Calling names, like worthless and useless
  • Threats and insults
  • Unnecessary questionings
  • Isolation

Sexual Abuse of Power

This is a common type of abuse of power. It is rampant everywhere, in the workplaces, society, religious institutions, and Organizations. Forced prostitution, rape, and sexual assaults come under the sexual abuse of power.

Forced prostitution can further lead to more complicated issues like trafficking. This type of abuse is common among women as they are vulnerable and helpless. Unfortunately, sexual abuse is the least talked about issue as many tend to shy away from the topic. Yet, it’s common to find cases of sexual abuse even during job interviews.

It is also important to note that sexual abuse of power can come from both acquaintances and strangers. Individuals should learn to protect themselves from their vices. 

Physical Abuse of Power

Physical abuse of power is wrongfully using a position of authority to physically influence subordinates, employees, students, colleagues, relations, or friends. In this situation, physical harm is done to the one oppressed. 

Most people are familiar with this type of abuse and usually take it to be the only form of abuse.  Physical abuse ranges from slapping to hitting, kicking, strangling, punching, blowing, etc. But that’s not all. Physical abuse can come in any form as long as it makes the victim uncomfortable physically. It’s best to learn how to defend yourself against physical abuse because it is dangerous and usually results in dreadful situations, like death.

Cultural Abuse of Power

Like emotional abuse, cultural abuse may not be easily noticed, but it has grievous consequences. Cultural abuse of power involves using a position of authority to affect a person’s identity or culture.

For example, a political leader can use his office to isolate people who do not speak a particular language. Another example is preventing an individual from dressing according to their religious views.

Cultural abuse of power inflicts pain on the victims owing to their cultural identity. This type of abuse of power is controlling in nature and will continue to escalate if necessary actions are not put in place.


Note that abuse of power is not a one-time event, but a pattern of behavior that inflicts pain or suffering on the victim. Anyone could be a victim of one or two types of abuse. It is not restricted to an age group, nationality, or gender. And it could happen anywhere. 

And the sad thing is that abuse of power brings corruption, underdevelopment, and exploitation to the community. All kinds of political and societal vices are inevitable when people in authority abuse the power given to them. 


Most Popular