Have you always viewed authority as something outside of you? Something bigger than you?
Probably, since that’s what it’s been your whole life — or at least what it was until you found yourself in a managerial role, says executive coach and author Jim Sniechowski, Ph.D., in a recent LinkedIn post.
But many new managers "don’t recognize their new state of being and have trouble acknowledging their new emotional status,” he says. These are the leaders who continue looking outside themselves for that someone they can follow, for that source of command, guidance, wisdom, and power. These are the same managers who have trouble succeeding — and the ones who aren't taken seriously.
Sniechowski says that not being aware of, integrating, accepting, and owning your own authority is the biggest mistake you can make as a manager.
“You may have learned management techniques from a book or a program," he says. "You may have been mentored by someone who has managed for a while and can ‘show you the ropes.’ But those ropes are most often technical, external-facing. They are concepts about communication and org structures, company policy, and, if you’re lucky, company politics. But the most important element of being a good, or even great, manager has been overlooked. That is helping you assume, own, and be comfortable with being the authority.”
Here are two simple tips for managers who struggle to see themselves as authority figures:
Think through what authority means to you. “After all, you are the one who has to live your version of it,” Sniechowski says. What do you want your authority to look and feel like, and what’s the emotional impact you want to have? “It’s important to monitor the outcomes of your behaviors, [since] that is how people relate to you and follow you.”
Accept the fact that people will follow you. Most managers are uncomfortable with this concept — but you can’t get around the fact that it’ll happen. “As an authority you are a leader,” Sniechowski explains. And it’s important that you feel comfortable being a leader with followers.
Sniechowski notes that this doesn't mean you can’t or shouldn't learn from those who are more advanced and more experienced. "But when you operate from your own authority you will not be conforming or complying, but [rather] learning, integrating, and developing your interpretation, your expression of doing what you’re learning about being a manager, a leader, an authority."
Read the full LinkedIn post here.
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