I continue to notice that most public sector organizations, as well as many of the people working within them, are especially mindful of the authorities that they may not enjoy. They hold themselves back from doing some of the things that no one else is doing but need to be done. Or they spend a great deal of time lobbying for others to give them the requisite authority to do the same. While many lobby for authorities with their words, the successful teams and individuals are the ones who demonstrate they are worthy of additional opportunity and authority through action.
It is proven that leaders grant authority to those in whom they have the most confidence. It just so happens that those who earn confidence are the same who have proven most competent. We can tell our leaders all day long that we deserve increased authority, we can tell our parent organizations that our team should be authorized to lead new business lines, and our children can continue to make a case that they are ready for additional privileges. The fact is such lobbying is wasted effort. If we were to focus that same energy on demonstrating our competence, increasing our level of contribution, and allowing others to see how capable we truly are, the authority will come. It may not happen today, it may not happen tomorrow, but it will happen. And when it does, we, ourselves, our team, our children will be ready to deliver and we will have earned the authority on merit alone.
There are many people who are threatened by competence and will be reluctant to work with you until you wear a certain rank or a more senior authority directs them to work with you. Unfortunately, that is the way it is. The objective is to do as Steve Martin has stated, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” Be so good that others want to involve you. Be so good that the team knows they are lesser without you. Don’t be preoccupied with the authority you do not have. Focus on demonstrating competence, earning confidence, and the rest will happen. Control what you can control, and influence those who have yet to expand your span of authority to do just that. Those of us committed to continual improvement will undoubtedly find ourselves in a perpetual cycle that leads us toward ever-increasing authority (either formal or informal). Those of us who are not will certainly see our authority continually diminish.
- How are you demonstrating competence?
- What are you doing to give others reason to have confidence in you?
- What authority are you earning?
Competence –> Confidence –> Authority!