Gain Authority in the Workplace

Each of us wants to be successful at a job and appear as authoritative as possible. When you are a newcomer to an organization or move into a new position, it can be hard to reach these goals. If you find yourself in this kind of position, follow a few simple steps to learn how to gain authority in the workplace.


Changing Your Presence

  1. Be confident in yourself. You have little hope of gaining authority if you don't believe in yourself. If you constantly second-guess yourself, you will not seem authoritative to anyone. If you hear your voice in your head telling you that you can't do it, don't listen to these internal negative messages. Believe that you can do anything and those around you will begin to notice your confidence.
    • Even if you get negative feedback at work, remember how sure and capable you feel about your job requirements. Don't let anyone make you doubt yourself.
    • It is also helpful to be well-informed about your job, your position, and how you fit within the company. Know your place and show your coworkers and bosses that you can do what is required of you.[1]
  2. Dress for success. When you go to work, dress to impress but don't go over the top. Figure out what is respectable for your particular position and work from there. Don't look like a carbon copy of everyone around you, however. Dress for success, but also remember to follow your own style, and feel confident in what you wear. The better you look and feel, the more authoritative you will appear.[1]
    • For example, don't show up to work in wrinkled jeans and a t-shirt where people in authority positions wear nice suits and dress clothes every day. Dress for the position and environment you are in.
  3. Be confident of your own authority. When you are new at a job or position, or if you are just trying to gain more authority in your current position, make sure you know what responsibilities you have. Be clear about what your job description is and what is expected of you. If you are in a managerial position, make sure you move projects forward, look after your fellow employees, and resolve problems that arise that you are responsible for.
    • When you make these decisions, make them with confidence. Don't second-guess yourself; you have the right to make choices. As long as you are clear about what your job entails, you can exert as much authority as your position will allow, if you are confident in your actions.[2][3]
  4. Don't appear self-important. One of the main ways to lose authority in the workplace is to act as if you are the most important person in the room. Even if your job description says you are higher up in the company than everyone else, don't act like it. Try to positively influence the workflow of those around you without seeming self-important. Strive to always be mindful of how your job relates to those around you.
    • This doesn't mean you should act as if you are not relevant. There is a balance between acting confident and in charge and acting self-important; expecting everyone to bow down to you and your authority. This will likely make your coworkers and employees lose respect and faith in your abilities.[4]
  5. Make a good impression. Whether it is with your boss, coworkers, or employees. When you interact with anyone at work, be on your best behavior. Don't make inappropriate comments or make anyone feel uncomfortable with your interactions. Put your best foot forward. You can't do this if you aren't mindful of your interactions with others. Make sure your projects, reports, or other work documents look as professional as possible. These presentations are how you interact most with your coworkers and bosses, so make sure they are clean and well designed.
    • This is true of e-mails as well. In the current workplace, you will likely interact with your coworkers through e-mail and other electronic communication on a daily basis. Make sure you are respectful as well as neat and grammatically correct in your messages. This will make you seem more confident and authoritative.
  6. Learn to speak up. There are times when you will be called on to help with a problem at work. Instead of being timid about a solution or worrying about overstepping your bounds, learn to speak up. If you think you have a solution to a problem, express it to those around you. They can be coworkers, employees, or bosses.
    • Try coming up with alternate solutions to problems. If there is a problem that is an "either/or" issue, try to make it a "this and that" solution.[1]

Changing the Way You Interact with Others

  1. Don't fill all silences. When you talk to other people in your work place, make concise, intelligent statements. If you are constantly trying to fill silences with nervous chatter, you will seem less authoritative and people will not see you as confident. Once you make a point, leave it at that. Don't try to fill any empty space if your coworker or employee doesn't respond right away.
    • Don't rush to answer a question, either. It is fine to take a minute to answer a question once you've been asked something. This shows that you have been listening and thinking about a proper response. Avoid blurting out the first thing that comes to mind.[2]
  2. Stop caring if you're liked. When you are trying to gain authority, you can't worry about being everyone's friend. Often times people in managerial positions have to make hard decisions that not everyone will like. Instead, assert yourself in a confident manner and people will not only appreciate you, they will take you more seriously.[2]
  3. Make sure you are on the same page as your boss. One way to undermine your authority at work is to have to backtrack on what you say. Before you make big decisions, tell other employees what to do, or start on a project, make sure you and your boss are clear on what is expected from you and your team. Have a clear understanding of any deadlines involved.
  4. Encourage others to succeed. If you are trying to gain authority in the workplace, you will need the help of those around you. Since you cannot do all the work yourself, encourage others to do their best as well. Your encouragement to do their best will empower them with new confidence. This will not only help them to accomplish their goals, but will help you gain better influence in the workplace as well.
    • For example, a coworker is working hard on a project but gets stuck. Instead of pointing out his errors, offer encouragement. Let him know that he has your support.
    • If you do this with enough people, you will be in favor with your coworkers and employees and will have gained respect from them as well.[3]
  5. Watch how you address others. When you speak to those around you, watch the tone of voice you use. If you are making a declarative statement, speak in a strong, even tone. Don't end a sentence with a question mark unless it is a question. Watch out for filler language as, which uses words such as "um", "like", and "I think." These make you sound less sure of yourself. Also attempt to be as direct as possible. Even if what you have to say is uncomfortable, say it in a direct, head-on way. Those around you will appreciate your straightforward approach and respect you for it.
    • Don't be defensive when you talk, either. If someone is challenging your authority or decision-making process, being defensive will make you seem less confident than simply sticking up for your own decision in a calm, collected manner.[2]
  6. Be a good listener. Although it is good to make sure your voice is heard and to give your opinions, make sure you don't offend the opinions of others. Give fellow workers the respect they deserve by listening to their opinions. Listen to what others have to say and take their comments to heart.
    • If you internalize their comments and do something about their concerns and complaints, they will see that you are fair, which will in turn make you more authoritative.
    • If you are trying to gain more authority with those on the same level as you, become their confidant by listening to their issues. This will make you seem like someone they can turn to for support, which will give you authority.[4]

Changing From Within

  1. Continue to get better. Just because you are in a place where you are gaining more authority doesn't mean that you are a perfect worker. Always strive to do better and to improve your work ethic. Make smart decisions that will help your company, not hold it back. This will give you more authority as well, since your bosses will see how smart and forward thinking you are.
    • If you are not sure what to do to improve your position, ask your boss, manager, or supervisor. They will likely tell you what you can do to improve, what responsibilities you can take on to help the company, or how you can become more involved. This will also help raise your level of authority because it will show your initiative.[4]
  2. Be okay with not knowing. There may be situations that you are uncomfortable with or don't know how to handle. One of the signs of an authoritative worker is being able to handle any situation that comes at you. When a situation presents itself, be okay with saying something like "I appreciate your question, and I'll think it over and get back to you." It shows that you are considerate of your coworker's thoughts and will consider their questions and opinions.
    • This also has the added bonus of giving you time to contemplate questions coworkers bring up and get back to them with well thought out, authoritative answers.[2]
  3. Manage your emotions. One of the worst things you can do is get angry in front of your coworkers. If you are confident and have authority, you do not need to get angry at certain situations just because you have the power to fix them. Even if a situation upsets you, don't let it show in front of others. If you do, it will appear that you do not know a more effective way to approach the situation.
    • This is true for when you have to discuss sensitive issues with co-workers as well. For example, if you have to talk over an employee's performance issues, remain calm and collected. Be concerned and stern, but not angry or hostile.[2]

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