Propensities - our natural preferences to reason, relate, and act in particular ways and to be drawn to and succeed at particular activities – tell the story of our relationship with power. They tell us about the form of power that is meaningful to us, and how we want to exercise that power in relation to ourselves, others and the world. Over time, our preferences and experiences combine to solidify a world view that substantially shapes the arc of our life.



Very simply, we can think of propensities in terms of where we focus our majority attention and the types of behaviors that we prefer to demonstrate.

What motivates us?

  • Internal abundance -focusing on inner well-being and self-manifestation e.g., autonomy, creativity

  • External abundance -focusing on external impact and outcomes e.g., money, praise, status

And how we prefer to engage?

  • Care -demonstrating concern for others, seeking common ground and mutual responsibility through giving and receiving, helping the organization hang together

  • Control -clarifying expectations and establish requirements, defining courses of action and ensuring orderly execution, helping the organization exercise due diligence

  • Compete - sizing up the competition, setting the pace and the standards, building momentum and ensuring success

  • Create -expressing uniqueness, seizing opportunities, and remaining vitally engaged to help the organization thrive

From the home to the boardroom, our propensities, combined with others’ propensities, give rise to power dynamics that create winners and losers based on the power within us to discern and take action, and the power between us to encourage or restrain each other’s behaviors. Constructiveness requires high levels of consciousness and conscience.

implications for human systems

In the workplace, aggregated propensity dynamics substantially determine how likely an organization is to have a healthy human system that is capable of delivering exceptional results. Depending on the dominant type of power dynamics - the culture will be shaped by virtuous cycles of participation, involvement, and considered risk-taking to attain and sustain things of value, or vicious cycles of suppressed passion, disinterest, and despair that can threaten destruction. Enlightened leadership ensures that power dynamics are constructive and performance enhancing, creating win-win for the total human system.


How Can It Work Better?

Aggregate propensities create functionalities, and functionalities drive outcomes. Learn how we can build healthier human systems and improve organizational performance by enhancing human system functionality.