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The Art of Balancing Authority



When leaders struggle with authority issues, the effects are serious and far-reaching. The problem is that they haven't identified and owned their personal ideals and beliefs. As a result, they haven't tapped into their power and competence. Whether holding the reins tightly or loosely, it's about finding the balance and applying the right amount of pressure.

The ability to navigate authority issues is crucial for success. Leaders who grapple with these challenges often find themselves hampered in their decision-making and impact. One common root cause is the failure to identify and own personal ideals and beliefs, preventing them from fully tapping into their inherent power and competence. The Hidden Struggle: Unidentified Ideals and Beliefs Leadership is as much an internal journey as it is an external one. As Brené Brown wisely notes, "Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it's having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome." This courage to show up begins with understanding and embracing our personal ideals and beliefs, laying the foundation for authentic and powerful leadership.


Tight or Loose: Striking the Right Balance Picture leadership as a delicate dance between holding the reins too tightly and letting go too soon. When leaders grasp control with an iron grip, they risk stifling innovation and demoralizing their team. Conversely, a leader who relinquishes control entirely may witness chaos and a lack of direction. Striking the right balance involves understanding the nuances of each situation and applying the appropriate amount of pressure to steer the ship effectively.

Permission Paralysis: Recognizing One-Down Relationships with Authority A common red flag for leaders struggling with authority issues is the perpetual need for permission. This permission-seeking behavior indicates a one-down relationship with authority, where decisions are postponed due to fear of disapproval. As Brené Brown emphasizes, "You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both." Recognizing and addressing this paralysis is a courageous step toward cultivating a more empowered leadership style.


Overcoming Permission-Seeking Habits Breaking the habit of constantly seeking permission requires intentional effort and self-reflection. Leaders can start by identifying situations that trigger the need for approval and exploring the underlying fears or insecurities. Mentorship and coaching programs can provide valuable external perspectives, offering guidance on developing the confidence to make autonomous decisions. Leadership training focused on assertiveness and decision-making skills can also empower leaders to overcome permission-seeking habits.

Owning Your Power and Competence True leadership begins with self-awareness. Leaders who identify and own their power and competence project confidence and inspire trust. This journey of self-discovery involves acknowledging strengths and weaknesses, learning from experiences, and continually evolving. By embracing their capabilities, leaders foster a culture of empowerment within their teams and position themselves for more impactful and fulfilling leadership.


As the former vice-president of a family owned, multi- generational grease and industrial lubricant manufacturing business, I've had to personally grapple with conflicts, responsibility, accountability, group dynamics and the importance of having well-oiled systems in place. Having a challenge? Let's chat.






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