Your ability to assert your authority on the job can have a big impact on your chances of obtaining the respect of your co-workers. Whether you've recently been promoted, are heading up a project team or are a long-time member of management, learn to more effectively assert yourself so you can take charge when needed.
Clarify Your Role
You're not at work to make friends -- you're there to accomplish a specific task and attend to your responsibilities. You might have to make tough decisions or judgment calls, and you might occasionally need to pull rank. One of the most challenging aspects of asserting authority is getting over the fear of people not liking you. Try to release the need to be liked or approved of, advises leadership expert Cy Wakeman in an article for Fast Company. This doesn't mean you can't be friendly, but you do need to establish clear boundaries and be able to draw the line when necessary.
Develop Effective Communication Skills
The ability to communicate effectively with others is an important aspect of asserting authority on the job. As leadership advisor Mike Myatt says in an article for Forbes.com, it is impossible to become a great leader without being a great communicator. Effective communication involves many aspects, including body language, tone of voice, flexibility and relaying your thoughts and requests clearly and with confidence. Stand up straight, speak in a clear tone of voice and look people in the eye. Think about what you want to say before you say it. Be direct and ask for what you want.
Maintain a Healthy Balance
Being assertive and authoritative doesn't mean you act like a dictator. Assertiveness is all about balancing your needs and wants while taking into account the needs and wants of others. The "it's my way or the highway" viewpoint usually leads to fear and resentment among your charges, which is counterproductive. Let others know you respect their opinions and ideas. Don't pass the buck or the blame when things go wrong. Be accountable and responsible for your actions. Being assertive on the job means that you are in control of your emotions, so avoid flying off the handle or demanding that people listen to or respect you. Maintain an even and professional tone when you need to assert your authority and be ready to back up your points with examples of why they are important.
Believe In Yourself
It might sound trite, but if you want to assert authority, you need to believe in yourself, your opinions and your abilities. You're in a position to assert authority for a reason -- someone must have felt that you deserved to be put in charge of a department, job or task. Come to work with a positive, "can-do" attitude. Avoid self-criticism and self-doubt. Trust your inner voice and believe that you are capable and deserve success.
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