Authority at work is usually conferred through titles or positions. However, to meaningfully engage and be taken seriously you shouldn’t wait to be handed authority. Cultivate your personal authority which is the ability to hold your own, be influential and to attract the support of the right people. Here are some tips;
Be literate about what makes your workplace tick: Every workplace has its own accepted ways of doing things; what is permissible, what is not, what the unwritten rules are and holes you could never dig for yourself. Know what these norms are and ensure you’re enhancing the environment with your behaviour, your habits and your interactions.
Build connections that create value: Develop the right relationships with those who are respected, those who are influential and whose role touches yours. Don’t waste precious time with people who engage in idle chatter; connect with the influencers especially those that decision makers listen to. Offer to understudy the ‘stars’ or those connected with those you want to. Be clear about what you offer not what you want.
Strengthen your presence: Be comfortable with who you are so that you can come across as genuine and strong. Act confident rather than present yourself in an apologetic manner. In meetings don’t let your mind drift elsewhere. Don’t just be a bum in a seat; participate, contribute, engage. Practice wholesome communication: Be constructive, open and honest in what you say and do. Say what you mean and do what you say. Don’t gossip or pass on negative things you hear because doing so will hurt your credibility, your credentials and your trustworthiness. When you have an opinion to share, speak up with the person who can do something about the issue. Don’t spew emotionally charged opinions or comments. Speak to others as you would like to be spoken to.
Conduct yourself well: The workplace is a public space so behave in a way that is appropriate. Be conscious of any negative dynamic you may be creating with your attitude or behaviour and stop it. Handle your concerns and problems maturely. Don’t gripe about everything or ‘megaphone’ things that bother you. Nobody needs to know everything’s that’s going on with you. Have one or two people you can confide in or vent privately to but best to get out of grumble mode. Look out for the organisation’s interests not just your own.
Now take action: Identify one important relationship you’ll develop at work.