7 Steps to Gaining Authority
As a new president takes authority over the government of the United States, he or she is given great authority by the office. But he or she is also under the authority of the constitution and those who elected him or her. While this authority is external. It comes with the job. It is great but the success of the presidency is determined not by this eternal authority but by internal authority.
A policeman with a badge and uniform has the power and right to direct automobiles and trucks to stop, turn, or proceed. His authority has been vested in him by a governmental agency. His authority is identified by his badge and uniform. An impostor could steal the uniform and badge and go out in the street and direct traffic and the drivers of the vehicles would not know he was an impostor and would probably follow his direction. His authority is in his appearance. The policeman does not have the physical strength to stop a truck coming at him at a high rate of speed, but he is able to stop the truck by the authority vested in him by the government.
In a traditional business organization, there is a hierarchy of authority. The Board of Directors - whose authority is vested in them by the stockholders or owners - has authority over the president, who has authority over vice presidents, etc. There is a hierarchal structure of authority throughout the entire organization.
Similarly, a military officer gives orders to troops who are trained to be obedient and to respond quickly to proper commands. The officer’s authority is vested in higher authority and backed by the government. Uniform insignia designates the rank. Rank determines the level of authority of the officer. The officer, in turn, is also is under authority. The military is a hierarchal organization where orders come down from the top to the lowest echelons and obedience looks up for direction.
There is one major problem with external authority. It can be taken away quickly without any warning. As a result, the external authority must be guarded and protected. When protecting a position, you will inevitably encounter someone who challenges your authority, leading to conflicts. The external authority may lead to compliance from underlings, but it does not always warrant respect.
Internal authority is based upon character. Organizational psychologist and author of “Give and Take,” Adam Grant, states "there were two ways to gain influence (have authority); dominance or prestige." Internal authority is all about “Prestige.” The internal authority may be difficult to explain but it is one of those things that “we know it when we see it.” Those with internal authority know who they are, why they are where they are, and what must be done. A person develops internal authority by growing in individuality, self-confidence, conviction, integrity, and having a servant attitude.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” R[Ralph Waldo Emerson]
Every individual in the world is unique. Unfortunately - because we have a desire to fit in - we try to hide our uniqueness and become like others around us. We see this in teenagers who dress alike, talk alike, and act alike. There are some who rebel and dress and act differently, but soon the rebels will come together and share their dress and actions as they fit together.
In the business world, there is a tendency to dress, think, and act alike. In many large corporations, you see individuals who dress alike, have similar facial hair and walk with a certain gait. Most of them are inadvertently imitating their immediate boss who in turn is copying the chief executive.
Individuality is important. It is the quality that makes one person or thing different from all others. It is not easy to be different, but you cannot develop internal authority if you are trying to be like someone else. Today we have too many people in politics, business, and the church who are not sure of their own identity, so they put on masks and try to become like the ones they care about, or what they think others want them to be. They do all of this in the hope that they will be accepted.
Individuality requires an understanding of one’s gifts, talents, and purpose. While you can grow in knowledge and ability, the only way you can grow in individuality is by being yourself and not trying to emulate someone else.
Self-confidence is confidence in oneself and in one's powers and abilities. It is not prideful but it is being totally honest about who you are. You know your weakness and limitations as well as your strengths. Self-confident people have a peace about them. There is an internal strength which allows them to handle criticism and failure without reacting in self-pity and defensiveness. Self-confidence allows one to react appropriately to criticism - to be objective, analyze, and accept appropriate criticism.
Individuals with internal authority have a conviction regarding what they are doing. By focusing on their purpose, they will not be sidetracked by unimportant issues which could distract and keep them from reaching their goal. Strong leaders are gifted with the ability to see long range goals and not chase down rabbit holes. Focus is derived from a conviction or purpose which evokes passion and a willingness to make sacrifices to achieve that which they seek. Passion is contagious and draws others to the battle. Others catch your passion and are led toward the same goal. People will follow leaders who have a passion about their purpose.
“I just set myself on fire and people come to watch me burn.” [John Wesley]
Each of us has a destiny, or purpose, in life. But we often dilute our efforts by chasing after things we are not called to chase. It is better to be good at a few things than mediocre at many things.
Integrity is measured by what you do when no one else is looking. It is the quality of being honest and fair - the state of being complete or whole. Integrity seems to be lacking in many leaders today. We are witnessing the lack of honesty and fairness by politicians, business executives, religious leaders, and individual citizens in today’s world. Integrity seems to have been lost in this egocentric Post-Modern world.
“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” [Albert Einstein]
Leaders with integrity will stand out and be followed by others seeking truth. Integrity requires us to speak the truth without exaggeration, follow through when we say we will do something, be careful in money and moral issues, live what we preach, and be a servant to those we lead - willing to sacrifice our own desires to help others.
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” ― Mother Teresa
A Servant attitude will always result in internal authority. A servant leader wants to benefit the group and desires to make other people successful and see them grow. It is a way of honoring others. There are too many leaders today that sacrifice the people that they have authority over, to further their own personal agenda.
Increase Your Internal Authority
Internal Authority cannot be taken away. People with internal authority will always rise to the top of an organization. They do not have to be afraid of other people, they can take risks and be innovative, and they end up with external authority given to them. They will be recognized by higher authorities and do not have to rely on the external things to be successful.
Those with authority must be under authority. If they cannot be under authority, they cannot be trusted to be given greater authority. If they can relate well to those over them, they will be able to relate well to those under them.
Internal authority can be increased by following the steps listed below.
1. Know yourself:
Understand who you are; your abilities, your strengths and weaknesses, and your purpose in life.
2. Eliminate Fear of failure:
Develop a Godly self-confidence. Baseball player, Sammy Sosa broke the record for strikeouts in a single season. He hit 62 home runs breaking the record of Babe Ruth, but he struck out more often than he hit a home run. Most people who have accomplished great things have failed a couple of times. Good people only condemn others for not trying, not those who try and fail.
3. Eliminate Fear of Rejection:
Do not be afraid of what others might think. Attempt something great. It is far better to attempt something great and fail than to attempt nothing and succeed.
4. Accept what you cannot change, be thankful for what you have:
5. Believe in the importance of your purpose:
6. Walk in integrity:
Be honest about your weaknesses and limitations. Be a learner, don’t be afraid to say, I don't know. Change your mind once in a while. Allow others to change your mind once in a while. Ask for help and advice once in a while. When you are wrong, admit it and repent quickly.