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March 8, 2012

Expect Resistance To Authority: The 2nd Leadership Key To Balance Authority & Collaboration

by Dr Rob Pennington

By Stephen Haslam and Robert Pennington, Ph.D., Resource International

This is the second in an eight part series on Balancing Authority and Collaboration

The 2nd Key: Expect Resistance To Authority
The 1st Key in this series focused on how a leader’s position (authority) can actually get in the way of gaining trust and positive influence with others (collaboration). But no matter how experienced or effective you are as a leader, you should expect some resistance to your authority.

Executives are responsible for executing strategic and financial goals. Supervisors are responsible for delivering projects and initiatives on time and on budget in support of those strategic and financial goals. To accomplish these things they need to manage the employees to get the work done.
All too often a goal is established or a problem is identified, management pulls together the best and brightest to craft a plan or a solution and the system or process is set in motion. But employees resist, ignore, and find work-arounds, and as a result the objectives are not achieved.

Some leaders think that by merely telling employees what needs to be that they should simply do their jobs and not complain. These leaders perceive resistance as inappropriate; evidence that a person is not “a team player” and not doing their job. It is an unfortunate reality that managers, supervisors, and leaders at any level will have to deal with resistance that employees have to authority. But managers need to focus on reducing the resistance first, before trying to get their point across.

The ultimate objective of using these techniques is to establish a work environment in which everyone feels safe to disagree so that communication is more open and work is more productive.

The 8 Keys To Balance Leadership Authority & Collaboration

  1. Position Power & Personal Power
  2. Expect resistance to authority
  3. Address levels of concern
  4. Don’t ask permission
  5. Communicate “The 4 P’s of Transition”
  6. Engage leaders at all levels
  7. Demonstrate respect to build trust and commitment
  8. Get tools in your tool belt

* Resources

Leadership Development: How to Get the Results You Need by Haslam and Pennington.

Reducing Resistance to Change and Conflict: A Key to Successful Leadership by Haslam and Pennington.

Kotter, John P. (2003).  The Power of Feelings, An Interview with John P. Kotter, Leader to Leader, No. 27, Winter 2003.

Bridges, W., & Mitchell, S. (2000).  Leading Transition: A New Model for Change.  Leader to Leader, No. 16, Spring 2000.

Hall, G. E., Wallace, R. C., & Dossett, W. A. (1973).  A developmental conceptualization of the adoption process within educational institutions (Rep. No. 3006). Austin, Texas: The University of Texas at Austin, The Research and Development Center for Teacher Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction No. ED 095 126).

Rob Pennington and Stephen Haslam work with leaders and managers.  Find out more at Resource International,

Read more from Rob's Blog Posts

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