Thursday, 3 May 2012

Trust Your Gut When Challenging Authority

As a leader, how comfortable are you challenging line authority or the authority of tradition? 

Most of us are taught to defer to authority in our organizations.  This is true of line authority as well as the authority of 'how we've always done things here'.  As a result, we can often tend to disregard our internal compasses. But your instincts are often right. Here is how to counter your conditioning and question authority:
  • Listen to your inner voice. Take a moment to breathe and consider what is going on. Ask yourself, "Are there other ways to approach this work?"
  • Constructively question. Ask your boss, or important stakeholders: Why do we do it this way?  Can we - as a school/organization be open to different ways? Can we experiment?
  • Reflect. Whether you've followed along or pushed for an alternative, think about what happened. Remember what it felt like to go against authority - or popular will - and think about how you might handle it differently in the future.

Adapted from "Learn to Trust Your Gut" by Ron Ashkenas.

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