Exercising authority can be challenging, especially if your team makes you feel you are ‘dumping’ extra work on them! Remember, you are the leader and you need to be able to exercise authority and delegate. Otherwise you might end up doing it all yourself! This can be done in a polite and reasonable way, so it doesn’t cause any offence and you get the results you want! So, here are some tips for you:
- Be confident
Be confident about yourself, your knowledge, skills and abilities and draw your confidence from knowing you have them. Remind yourself that your role as a leader has a purpose and you are there to serve this purpose! Trust your instincts and let them guide you on saying what’s right.
- Be calm
Use a calm and collected manner and maintain a clear head. Getting angry won’t serve you and may lose control. Politeness is always a winner but be firm at the same time!
- Be open-minded
Use a discussion/consulting manner and avoid sounding authoritative. Give credit to the members of your team; this way you acknowledge their contribution and expertise. Being authoritative, confrontational, and closed-minded when making a point will only serve to make you look pretentious and condescending. Instead, point out where you take issue, and then open it up for discussion.
- Be straightforward
You can be straightforward without being rude. Be direct and say exactly what you want. Don’t ‘chew’ your words or try to trick people into something; this won’t serve you and it will create more confusion and resentment. It’s ok to fight your corner but be prepared to discuss your reasoning in an open and honest way. Saying ‘no’ isn’t always a bad thing and can be a great way to assert yourself.
- Ask questions
Asking questions is a great way to be assertive and exercise authority. It can help you get your points across; you get listened to and shows you are interested. Questions change the tone of the conversation and make it friendlier and more helpful.
Phrasing things as questions (rather than statements or demands) makes it obvious that your intention is to facilitate a conversation in order to improve the outcome and that you are interested hearing what other people think and, potentially take this on board.
- Be helpful
Listen, to what others have to say and take their points on board. Surely, people in your team are honest (mostly!) and might be overwhelmed as a first reaction. So, be supportive and helpful; explain more about what you are asking and offer a helping hand and assistance. Provide evidence and reason with them about the task, so they can understand how it fits within the team’s remit and they don’t feel left alone and daunted. This way, you can then demonstrate the rationale behind your decisions.
Communication is a two-way exchange and so the way you present yourself influences the way you are perceived. So, practice your piece in an assertive way. Try doing this in front of a mirror so you can check both your verbal and non-verbal skills (body language). For the latter you can try the following:
- Maintain eye contact.
- Stand or sit with good posture.
- Speak with an appropriate tone and volume of voice (often a calm, helpful tone helps you be more constructive, so avoid short and snappy sentences).
- Keep your body relaxed and calm (avoid defensive body language i.e. crossing your arms)
See what works and what doesn’t and change your manner, accordingly, e.g. how would you react if someone challenges you. This will help you building your confidence and assertiveness.
Check out this blog on How To Speak With Confidence & Authority. There are some really useful tips about the tone of voice, emphasis and confidence and voice examples: https://www.improveyoursocialskills.com/how-to-speak-with-confidence-and-authority
This one is for young people but has some really useful techniques that can be adapted for us, adults: https://www.wikihow.com/Be-Assertive-Without-Being-Rude