Power and Duty


Rousseau’s quote, “The strongest man is never strong enough to be master all the time unless he transforms force into right and obedience into duty,” portrays the relationship between power, morality, and authority. This quote insinuates that mere physical power or authority cannot guarantee the long-term rule, but it has to be supported by the rightfulness of one’s actions and the loyalty to your rule among those governed. Rousseau in a generally emphasizes the necessity of moral authority, and the concept of consent of the governed in the building of a stable, and just society.

I agree with Rousseau’s assertion as it is supported by the principles of moral legitimacy and social contract theories. The idea of power as an enabling tool to achieve positive goals implies that its usage should be in accordance with the moral and ethical principles in order to sustain the legitimacy (Stupak et al., 2021). As such, duty-based obedience reflects the agreement between rulers and the ruled and this is the base of a just social order. Through the observance of these principles, societies can then create and keep trust between people, cooperation, and stability, which are essential elements of a governance system. The concepts of sustainable governance as Stupak et al. (2021) explain, emphasize the importance of Rousseau’s quote therefore by using it we can understand the dynamics of power and authority in society. The statement stresses the need for legitimate rule by virtue of consent, morality and duty, which actually bring together the power and legitimacy in order to secure social order and stability. Rousseau’s idea therefore speaks as a timeless reminder of the key aspects of true and proper governance.

Daniel Goleman’s Response

Daniel Goleman, as presented in “Working with Emotional Intelligence,” would undoubtedly agree with Rousseau’s quotation by highlighting the transformative effect of emotional intelligence on leadership and influence. Goleman’s viewpoint underlines the belief that sheer power and physical abilities are not the only determinants of strength. Instead, it is the emotional robustness and control that are the crucial determining factors (Coleman, 1998). In the sense of Rousseau’s statement, Goleman would likely assert that power is connected to the ability to move people willingly through emotional intelligence, and not physical force. Goleman’s concepts such as empathy, social skills and self-awareness coincide with Rousseau’s vision where force is changed into right and obedience is turned into duty. Leaders are able to do this by putting themselves in place of others and by empathizing with their emotions and this enables leaders to achieve trust, respect and cooperation, and thus duty-based obedience. In Goleman’s work, it is shown that those leaders who give more importance to emotional intelligence can efficiently handle problems, develop good mutual relations, and create such a shared purpose among their followers that prevalent principles which is in line with Rousseau’s principles.

Furthermore, Goleman’s ideas about “flow” and the significance of emotional intelligence in companies reinforce that his view is in line with Rousseau’s statement. Through proactive communication, building trust, and cooperation, the leaders can set up a system of voluntary contributions where people become inspired to give in their best (Goleman, 1998). In this way, Goleman’s ideas further the perception that high-level achievement and leadership are achieved by refashioning force into right and unconditional compliance into duty through emotional intelligence which in the long run yields positive outcomes for the individual and the organization.


Goleman, D. (1998). Working with emotional intelligence. Bantam. https://asantelim.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/daniel-goleman-emotional-intelligence.pdf

Stupak, I., Mansoor, M., & Smith, C. T. (2021). Conceptual framework for increasing legitimacy and trust of sustainability governance. Energy, sustainability and society, 11, 1-57. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s13705-021-00280-x

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