Respect Your Authority.

5 Jun

Today’s advice comes from Pfizer general counsel and executive vice president Amy Schulman’s interview with the New York Times:

“If you’re constantly giving direction and speaking, then you’re really not encouraging conversation. And no matter how democratic you’d like to think you are as a boss, you learn that your voice is louder than others’.”

Schulman has learned in her time as a leader — beginning as a camp counselor and teacher all the way up to her current post as pharmaceutical powerhouse Pfizer’s general counsel — that encouraging dialogue and responsiveness is characteristic of any good boss.

Without respecting the authority you have as a top staffer in the office, you’ll risk alienating your employees and stifling growth, she says. That’s why it’s important to guide and dictate, but not overwhelm, your colleagues. In meetings, make sure they’re attentive and invested in the conversation. If they’re just parroting your ideas back to you, you’re not doing a good enough job.

Encourage them to challenge you — it’s usually through that kind of productive discussion that the best ideas grow, Schulman says. That means being an attentive listener and waiting your turn to speak, even if you’re the most senior staffer in the room. Resist pulling rank, because it’s usually not necessary.

“One of the marks of a good speaker is actually being a great listener.”

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One Response to “Respect Your Authority.”

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