Right Use of Power


Donations are welcome!

Right Use of Power 

with Dr. Cedar Barstow and hosted by Susan Skjei
This program is based on Dr. Cedar Barstow’s book, Right Use of Power: The Heart of Ethics—A Guide and Resource for Professional Relationships, and training program in engaged ethics that teaches four aspects of the ethical use of power. In her program, power is defined as “the ability to have an effect, or to have influence.” Good intentions are necessary but not sufficient for using power wisely and well. Power is a big topic and worthy of attention and study by both leaders and students. At the end of the course, you will have a deep understanding of the nature of power and the dynamics involved in relationships where there is a power difference. You will also have an understanding of your personal power style and impact. You will learn skills like offering healthy and useful feedback, reducing shame, and resolving and repairing relationship conflicts. You will grow your power-wisdom.
There are other factors that need to be understood to be prepared to use power rightly. These factors include shame and cognitive strategies that interfere with accountability, fight/flight/freeze responses, influence of non-ordinary states, transference, difference between intention and impact, inadequate self-care, unskillfulness, cultural or contextual differences, negative brain effects of elevated role power, and special issues for spiritual leaders. Eight modules will cover these factors. The program will begin February 15 and end June 16, and you will have continued access to the course material indefinitely.

We would like to acknowledge and thank Jon Ransohoff and the Shambhala Trust for their generous donation to the Right Use of Power training development.

Program Outline

Modules 1 & 2 - Be Informed and Present

  • Introduction of Cedar Barstow and Susan Skjei and why this training is important for Shambhala
  • Developing personal power as foundation
  • Understanding the difference between personal, role, and status power
  • Role power as a set of responsibilities inherent in the position
  • Power differential dynamics

Modules 3 & 4 - Be Compassionate and Aware

  • Special considerations for spiritual leaders and spiritual communities 
  • Boundary styles and maintaining good boundaries
  • Status power, diversity, and inclusion
  • Feedback skills as an investment in relationship

Modules 5 & 6 - Be Connected and Accountable

  • Shame, cognitive strategies, and other factors that interfere with accountability
  • Resolving and repairing impact and intention
  • Processes for those with greater role power and those with lesser power
  • Effective apology       
  • Orientation to Shambhala’s new Code of Conduct

Modules 7 & 8 - Be Skillful and Proactive

  • Self-care as an ethical issue
  • Managing multiple roles in community
  • Neurobiology of power—both the capacity for good and for harm
  • Power shadow review process
  • Mediating the shadow of power

Integration with Shambhala Teachings

  • Susan Skjei will be the overall host and guide for the community, in conjunction with Dr. Cedar Barstow, for the Right Use of Power training. 
  • The first module opens with an introduction of Dr. Barstow and Susan Skjei giving context about why this training is important now for Shambhala and how the need for the training was identified.

About the Instructors

Dr. Cedar Barstow, D.P.I. is the founder and director of the Right Use of Power Institute, which provides training, consultation, and resources to help people cultivate the skills, sensitivities and concepts that are needed to use their considerable power wisely, sensitively, and effectively. The Right Use of Power approach is a dynamic, inspiring and relational approach to the ethical use of personal, role, and status power  to promote well-being and the common good. She is author of Right Use of Power: The Heart of Ethics— A Resource for the Helping Professional and Living in the Power Zone: How Right Use of Power Can Transform Your Relationships with Reynold Ruslan Feldman, Ph.D.


Susan Skjei, Ph.D., is an educator, coach and organizational consultant specializing in leadership and transformative change. In 1972 Susan began her studies with the Vidyadyhara, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. She attended the 1974 seminary and early Kalapa Assemblies and, at his request, became the first Shambhala Training resident director in the San Francisco Bay Area. Later, she became a student of the Sakyong and served on the Shambhala Board of Directors for over 10 years. During that time she was also Vice President of Human Resource Development and Chief Learning Officer for a large high-tech company.

Susan has taught extensively and has provided mentoring, training and facilitation to many Shambhala Centers in North America and Europe. Currently, Susan is the director of the Authentic Leadership program at Naropa University and a founding member of the Authentic Leadership in Action (ALIA) Institute in Nova Scotia. She also consults internationally with leaders of non-profit organizations and businesses worldwide through her company Sane Systems. She lives with her husband, Jim Pascucci, in Longmont, Colorado.