I’m not the supervisor.
I’m not the manager.
I’m not in charge here, so I’ll do whatever the boss wants.
Do any of these sound familiar?
If someone promoted me, then I’d have the authority to lead.
Once I’ve been knighted, then I’ll have the nobility to influence others.
Once I’ve been bequeathed the royal blah, blah, blah . . .
Leadership doesn’t come from authority. Some people use authority as though it were, and many people follow as though it were–but that’s not what leadership is.
Leadership is assertiveness, not aggressiveness.
People want authority because they want to:
- Control the environment around them.
- Be immune to scrutiny from above.
- Have the freedom to say and do what they really want.
- Influence others.
The strange thing is that this approach will never work.
Let’s break these down point by point.
#1 – The environment around you is only partially controlled by you. You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. You can choose your job but you can’t choose your manager. So outside of choosing the people and place you put yourself in, there’s not really much you can do. So #1 up there is pretty impractical.
#2 – Haters gonna hate. It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO. There’s a board member who is watching. And even if you’re the board member, your partners, other board members, and the entire rest of the internet are all watching. There’s no escape. This approach is futile.
#3 – Volleying off of #2, it’s more practical to just act in accordance with your true thoughts and feelings from the start. If you don’t, you’ll end up resenting yourself. And that is a great way to shut yourself down completely. If you do this, sure, there are people who won’t like you. But if you are able to disagree professionally and with dignity, you’ll earn respect, which is probably far more valuable than being liked.
#4 – Just because you have the power to tell people what to do doesn’t mean they will like or respect you when they do it. If you’re truly interested in leadership, not just authority, you’ll want your team to follow you into the dark and feel comfortable going there. If you’re serious about leadership, you’ll want your team to go to war for you. That’s a lot harder if they don’t like or respect you.
So what do you actually want?
Authority or leadership?
Which is more sustainable or applicable to your long-term goals?
2 Minute Action:
Ask yourself what would happen if you just started?
What would happen if you just spoke your mind about the new branding project to your supervisor?
What would happen if you were honest with your friend about her new boyfriend?
What would happen if you were open and honest with people in a constructive, professional way?
They just might feel like you’re trying to help.
They just might trust you a little bit more.
They just might see you in a different light.
It just might open the door to some new opportunities.
It can take 2 minutes of your day to do something a little bit out of your comfort zone.
Today’s the day.
Make it happen.