Sep 17, 2014
Today’s post is provided by our friends at OpenSesame and was written by Katie Barrer.
If you have a problem in the workplace or are looking for direction, you most likely go to someone of authority. Do you believe these people of authority exude positive leadership with good, authoritative tactics? Or if you are the main authority figure, do you believe you display a good balance of authority? Too often we find ourselves in a workplace under the leadership of someone who is too overbearing and intimidating. On the other hand, we sometimes find ourselves in a situation where we too want to demonstrate authority but don’t know how. When put in that position, we may come off as too passive.
A recent article from Copyblogger shows great examples of authority gone wrong in the real world and gives insight on authoritative ideals in the workplace:
“A good leader knows how to gracefully draw attention away from their own authority instead of beating people over the head with it. This isn’t to devalue the importance of building and developing authority. It’s just about being mindful about when you display it—and what the reaction might be.”
The real question we can take from this is, “Where do we find the middle ground?” Knowing where you stand as an authority figure in the workplace, and when and how to display your authority, is the key to creating a smoothly functioning work community. Whether you have authority in the workplace, or are looking to gain it, these leadership tips will make it easier for you to find balance and become a strong and successful presence in the workplace.
1. Know your role, but always improve
When taking on the “head honcho” position in the workplace, it is vital that you understand your responsibilities and level of authority. Authority is a driving force in the workplace, so most likely you will be influencing employees’ personal work decisions and even their motivation. Make smart decisions to move your business forward, not hold the company back. That starts with giving feedback, taking time to get to know your employees, and addressing problems that directly affect your company. On the other hand, if you are someone who wants more authority in the workplace, ask your boss, manager, or supervisor what else you can do to help take on extra responsibilities. The more you get involved, the more likely the authority figure in your workplace will want to give you more of a say in important decisions, working on special projects, etc.
2. Don’t get defensive
Confidence is the key to successfully filling a leadership role. The most significant thing you can do as either a leader or employee is to show confidence in yourself. When your decisions are called into question, getting angry or upset shows you may be lacking this confidence. Not only that, but it also shows you may have a temper. With that may come an overall lower moral, lower productivity and an unhappy company culture. Solving problems and finding solutions while remaining calm shows that you can show authority in almost any type of situation without things getting heated.
3. Watch how you communicate
Tone is extremely important in all forms of communication, such as phone calls and face-to-face conversations, but you should pay extra attention to text communication, such as email. Your tone of voice can influence what someone believes you are thinking or feeling, even more so if your voice is being substituted with words on a screen. Some people have a problem with approaching authority figures because they find them intimidating. As a leader in the office, use a strong, positive tone as much as possible. When dealing with a difficult situation or employee, opt out of email and have conversations face-to-face. If you are an employee wanting more authority, have confidence in your words. Ask important questions, speak in a firm tone, and most importantly, avoid “ums”!
When you’re in a position of authority, your employees are going to come to you with concerns. The ability to listen and reply with words of understanding is key in not only creating positive relationships with your employees, but showing them you care about their concerns. The same goes with having the desire for more authority in the workplace. Listen to your fellow employees and become a confidant for them when dealing with work or personal issues. Your actions will not go unnoticed by people of higher authority.
5. Take ownership
It is often difficult for people to admit that they were wrong or made a mistake. As a leader, admitting your wrongs to an employee is huge. Not only does it show that you can be vulnerable too, but also shows you want to be there to solve problems for the benefit of the workplace. As an employee, owning up to your mistakes and talking to your supervisor or boss about them shows that you are willing to work hard and make changes. Come up with tangible solutions to show your manager or fellow employee how to fix the issue at hand to demonstrate you too are a problem solver.
6. Have a balance of both formal authority and personal authority
Formal authority refers to the position of authority that you have been given, while personal authority deals with your morals and values and how they play into how you act. Having a balance of these two is key. Showing too much formal authority may bring on the intimidation factor and may be overbearing. Not only that, but it may hurt your relationship with your employees. Having too much personal authority is not necessarily a bad thing but can give off the vibe of being too passive. Finding the balance between formal authority and personal authority will help to make you a more well-rounded manager or employee and find that middle ground.
Whether you are attempting to gain more authority in the workplace, or are already an authority figure in the office and want to improve your role, look to these simple steps for guidance. Sometimes it is the smallest change in our work habits and communication that can make the biggest difference! Want to learn more about showing authority? Here are just some of the courses on leadership and authority in the workplace offered by OpenSesame:
- Personal Impact and Charisma In Leaders
- Increasing and Developing Communication Skills
- Leadership Bundle
- The Extraordinary Leader: Going From Good to Great
- 20 Courses For $20: Management & Leadership
Learn more about OpenSesame.
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