managemnet company strategy managemanet 4 Ways to Earn the Respect of a More Powerful Colleague

4 Ways to Earn the Respect of a More Powerful Colleague

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Whether we want to recognize it or not, in many partner relationships there is a difference in power, usually based on the status of each party in the organization and who has more control over what the other needs at a given time. For example, the engineering leader whose team ultimately determines the time-to-market of a product line may have more power than the sales leader who tries to deliver for impatient customers, and the leader of a mature and “non-exciting” business unit can often meet their needs. was deprioritized by the IT department, which rushed to support a rapidly growing division, instead.

This is a particularly frustrating dynamic for those in the “lower” position – but in order to develop a mutually respectful relationship with colleagues (and perhaps even claim more relative power), it is important to take steps towards balancing the equation. With the willingness to express yourself in creative ways, you will develop more agency for yourself, especially during times of feeling rejected or dependent.

Research shows There is a “Goldilocks” effect when it comes to assertiveness in interpersonal relationships, where you can hit a sweet spot between being very assertive and not enough. If done correctly, healthy opposition can lead to deeper mutual trust and respect. Based on my work as an executive coach for senior leaders in global companies, here are four strategies you can deploy in your relationships to distribute power more evenly.

Choose to decline certain requests.

It can feel incredibly challenging to turn down a more powerful partner’s request. But in any interaction, a framing effect occurs where each party measures who has more power and influence. Because power is composed of many factors and a situation, even if you find yourself usually powerless relative to a partner, there are situations that arise where they need something from you such as as you need. Even if you’ve always agreed in the past, on occasion, it’s important to take the opportunity to politely decline the demands of a more powerful person.

In a study in relationships defines power as not only having a greater ability to influence another, but also having a stronger resisting the influence of others. So, the next time you notice that your co-worker is overexerting their power over you (for example, making another last-minute request even though they’re inaccessible to you), it’s a good idea to don’t immediately drop what you want. perform a rescue jump.

I once coached a leader whose peers often put work on him but managed to stay above the fray when others needed his help. This partner will often refer to his interactions with their co-boss as a way to justify his power and drop their name while claiming to serve him purely.

If you are in the same position as my client, respond to your partner by saying something like, “I want to let you know that I got your request. I am happy to help but I have other commitments that I have to deal with at the moment. In the meantime, feel free to send me more information if I can suggest another solution.”

Ideally, you want to send a message that you expect them to invest their limited time in the relationship as well. If you are faithful to the smallest promises you make, then you can confidently hold your position as an equal partner. This not only encourages them to respect you but forces them to make the sacrifices needed for the relationship as you do.

Connect them with other powerful people who value you.

Another way to transfer power to the relationship is to subtly remind them of your social value by connecting them with other people they respect, with whom you have developed a relationship. This does three valuable things: first, it shows them (through the principle of social proof) that you have something to offer if the people they admire see value in you; secondly, it can tip the scales in your relationship dynamic because you have the access they want to enjoy; and third, it sends a signal that you already have high-profile access, so don’t be desperate to chase their approval.

I worked with a leader who struggled to be seen as a “strategic” executive and was continually demoted for higher-level HR roles when succession planning discussions occurred. But in reality, he is relatively new and eager to contribute to the more visible aspects of the business; it’s because he’s so good at operational execution that HR and his boss don’t want to rock the boat with a promotion.

To disrupt this power dynamic, which was limiting his growth, my client began to develop relationships with other senior leaders and social ideas that would help their business needs. And then he started making introductions between his new contacts and some of the colleagues in HR and his business who had an influence on his career. By demonstrating his access to other powerful leaders and sharing it by connecting with others, his brand began to rise to the perspective of a business-level leader.

Help them show their blind spots as a way to support them.

Even the most powerful people don’t see themselves exactly how other people see them. In other words, they have blind spots just like the rest of us. And if you can help them gently recognize an aspect of their thinking or behavior that is hindering their goals, they can begin to see you as a trusted partner, rather than someone below their level.

One of my clients was an SVP at a technology company who was aware of chatter throughout the organization about the CEO’s lack of decision-making and how it was creating confusion among employees and the team.

While he agreed with the general sentiment, he was happy with how the CEO treated him. While she has more power than him, she generally accepts the idea of ​​working under his leadership and meeting his expectations as best she can. After all, he thought, why jeopardize his relationship with the CEO and give him tough feedback that might backfire on him as a messenger?

But he also knows that in order to be his reliable partner, he really needs to be in his corner, through good and bad, and needs to be honest with him for his own good. Therefore, he decided at his next meeting to share his observations.

The SVP said, “I know how important it is to you to do the right thing for the business and our people. And sometimes our strengths can be overused to the point of becoming a weakness. I think because you care so much about hearing all sides of an issue, it starts to delay making decisions. And I want to offer this possibility because you can be very close to this style to see how it affects others.

By taking the risk of putting a mirror to the CEO, the SVP earned a high degree of respect and gratitude from him. Their relationship becomes one of trusted advisor and not just a direct report.

If you meet people with power and just tell them everything they’ve heard before or the same things as others in your position, you’ll be forgotten and relegated to the status quo. But by stepping out of your comfort zone to – kindly, but forcefully – point out something that the powerful person has not noticed, you will not only be forgotten but will begin to gain influence and respect with them.

Make them work to get your attention.

Gaining the respect of colleagues who are more powerful than you is an interesting paradox: by putting them in a position to work for your approval, you gain their respect. So, the fourth strategy is to create conditions where they have to “sell” their value to you. Basically, don’t work hard to earn their respect and put the burden on them to explain why they should be worthy of your attention.

Over the years, I have coached leaders of companies that have gone through a merger or reorganization that required many employees and leaders to “re-apply” for a job, even within their division or a new part of the company. This experience can be disturbing, not only because they are back to being a candidate competing with others for a job, but because unlike applying to a new company from the outside, their reputations are -before them and provides more subjective input that can influence the interviewers when evaluating. they.

The natural mistake many people make in these situations is to over-prepare for the questions they think will be asked of them and try their best to twist their answers to please. the co-worker. This may seem like the path of least resistance but actually makes them forgettable and unremarkable in the eyes of the other party.

Instead, find ways to be generous with your answers but don’t be afraid to also ask questions that will put them on their heels a little. When your co-worker asks you the oft-repeated question, “Why should we hire you for this job?” your first instinct is to prove your worth to their satisfaction, even though you and they know that most everyone applies for jobs because of reorganization, not because they want to try on a bag thing.

Instead, pull back and say something like, “Honestly, I’m not sure you should hire me anymore. I want to see if there’s a mutual fit between my experience and your perspective on where this is going.” team goes in. Anything you can share about your management style will be helpful as I figure out my next steps.

Expecting people in power to “see” your interests instead of ignoring them can bring positive results. Not only will this set you apart from the competition, but it will ensure that you are working with colleagues who respect you rather than remaining subject to their power and whims.

If you’re stuck in an unequal power dynamic, it’s helpful to remember that not only is power placement temporary, but you can make it fair. By adopting these strategies, you can creatively pivot the moment and frame the connection differently, so you can build the respect you deserve.

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