(1) The ability to do something or act in a certain way
(2) The ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events
Power has a bad rep in the workplace. Too many terrible managers have made too many people associate authority with arrogance and autocracy. But, as the dictionary definition shows, power is synonymous with success. Having authority means you are able to implement your ideas, lead teams, work autonomously and be recognized and respected.
Moreover, projecting authority is not about forcing other people to do your bidding. It’s about painting yourself as a capable, knowledgeable worker. It’s about indicating your suitability for a promotion. It’s as important a trait for the office intern to cultivate as a company CEO.
1) Hold Power Positions
Power positions = confidence. Lift your chest, hold your head up high, put your arms on your hips, and you’ll instantly feel more powerful. Take the same stance in meetings or interviews and you’ll exude self-assurance and authority.
Using body language as a success strategy can sound like a fad, but it is rooted in nature; all animals read others by the way they hold themselves. When we assume a power pose, our testosterone levels increase and cortisol level decrease. These hormone changes make us more assertive and more willing to take risks.
2) Eliminate Tentative Language
Don’t maybe eliminate tentative language. Don’t somewhat eliminated tentative language. Eliminate it.
Businesses are not philosophy departments. When you know a piece of information, present it as the fact it is. This makes you look competent. When you’re expressing an opinion, speak firmly and with conviction. Using assertive language does not stop you being polite or listening respectfully to the ideas of your colleagues; it makes you sound like you know what you’re talking about.
When we water down our statements we sound like we don’t have full faith in our opinion. And if we don’t believe completely in our idea, why should anyone else?
3) Hold Yourself to Your Own Standards
True authority is earned, not imposed. If you don’t hold the respect of those around you, they will turn against you at the first opportunity. Respect is not lost by disagreeing with someone, or asking them to complete an undesirable task, or giving constructive critical feedback. Respect is lost by treating others differently to yourself.
The prerogative of a manager is to set the rules, not to break them. If you expect your employees to be at their desks at 9am sharp, be at your desk at 9am sharp. If you want them to take notes in meetings, take notes in meetings.
If you don’t exemplify the example you wish your colleague to follow, demanding they meet those standards will only generate resentment.
4) Always Be Prepared
It is a truism that ‘those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail’. Picture a powerful person. Are they flustered, confused, or stunned? Exactly. If you aren’t projecting calmness, collectiveness, and certainty, you aren’t projecting authority.
While you cannot plan for every eventuality, putting several practices into place will help you take surprises in your stride. Staying on top of industry news and trends, and keep an eye on your competitors, will allow you to hazard a guess about the direction the business should be moving. Keep anything you need regularly (such as smart shoes for meetings) in your desk. And always have a Plan B, for everything from transport routes to idea pitches to sudden printer failure.
Beth Leslie writes graduate careers advice for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency specializing in matching candidates to their dream internship. Check out their graduate jobs listings for roles. Or; if you’re looking to hire an intern, have a look at their innovative Video CVs.