How do you establish authority in your field? I don’t care whether that’s internet authority, or workplace authority, or as a business expert.
One quick note just before I get into the episode. As soon as I finished the episode, within two hours I ran into two different situations, two different people (not related) both claiming authority, talking about it as if they have it, and I know they don’t. They couldn’t answer some of the very basic questions. So, be careful, make sure that whatever you’re doing, whoever you’re listening to is not somebody who’s just selling it and their career is based on selling you that product, but that they’ve actually done it. If it’s a coach, somebody who is successful in business over and over again in companies, etc., not somebody who just decided that they don’t have a job, or somebody who’s selling something that’s supposed to be performing. Make sure you see things that they’ve done. Now to the episode.
How to Establish Authority
Today I want to discuss how to establish authority. Clearly, the more you’re approached or have the presence of authority, the better your position, the better your following, the more money you’re going to make, the more satisfaction you’re going to have, and the family you have will have in you.
OK, now, how do you establish authority in your field? I don’t care whether that’s internet authority, or workplace authority, or as a business expert. The idea is that you are regarded as the go-to person or highly regarded, the key is: Without saying it. First of all, you’ve got to get to the point where you can develop the confidence, that is you stand tall and you don’t categorize yourself, you’re driven. You don’t say that you’re an expert. You have to have it reach out from you, from what you’re doing, what you’re saying, and how you’re acting to be recognized and thought of as that expert. That is you demonstrate it and you let other people say it. Don’t say it yourself.
Some of the things you do is make sure that when there are topics or things that are being done, you make the topic of conversation, that is that you have and develop the innovative ideas that are the discussion. You don’t want to just be part of the group or in the discussion. That’s not going to do enough. Just being that is just being one of the masses, one of the people, which can be a wonderful thing if that’s what you want. But if you want to be recognized as an authority, how do you get it and how do you separate yourself so that you’re appreciated and recognized?
First, while I say don’t say it, do acknowledge your accomplishments, whatever they are. You don’t state them, but you do acknowledge them. Thank the other person for stating it or something. Join with an associate, with other leaders in your field, you both learn from them as mentors. Think back to the chapter in the book, but also that episode where I discussed your five friends, the people closest to you, and how your family, friends, and acquaintances can actually be harmful to you. Why? You want to establish that broader reach of people who really are recognized, that you start to be recognized with them and then even amongst them. In order to do this, you’re going to have to do whatever it takes to get the knowledge that you need. In the next episode I’m going to be talking about mastering a topic, mastering a skill. It’s a little different than you’ve established, you know it, you’re very good, but you haven’t established an authority, that is that you’re not recognized. This assumes that you already really know the stuff, whatever the field, whatever the business is, but you want to be recognized for it.
Just think about it. If you’re recognized in your field or in your expertise, that means you’re more in demand, everything from your pay to your happiness is going to be increased. It also means, though, in order to do this, because it’s not static, you’re going to have to make breakthrough success and blow by your comfort zone not just one time but as a common occurrence. You’re going to have to love to be uncomfortable. When you do that, don’t be afraid to voice your opinion. Just make sure you thoroughly can cover your bases first.
When I first met Lee Iacocca when I was first introduced I realized he was supposed to be in an extremely bad mood, etc. I guess he was because he had big arguments or lectures that he gave to two major groups within Chrysler. When I was introduced I said: “Look, this is the way I do things. I’ll tell you exactly what I think. There’s one of three things that are going to happen. Either you’re going to get something out of it and you learn something new, or you’re just going to find it redundantly ridiculous, or of such poor advice that you’re going to throw me out, but most likely you’ll get something out of it.” He stood up, reached across, shook my hand and said: “It’s about time to meet somebody who will tell me what they think, rather than what they think I want to hear.”
That statement that I made can also be considered very dangerous or very risky because then I’m about to go into a conversation where I’m going to be telling him a lot of things that I disagree with him about, and recommendations that are outside the current belief within Chrysler, so you do have to make sure that you cover your bases and you know what you’re doing before you say it. That gets back to mastering the topic, which we will get into next time.
What you really have to do is you have to care about the quality of what you do and say more than the money that might be coming or making somebody happy. You have to respect others, and also get help wherever you can. Going back to that idea of pleasing, just like Iacocca, I had a mentor/advisor, whatever you want to call it, an executive director above me in General Motors and one time he said: “Gee, I’ve been in General Motors for 32 years, and finally get somebody who will tell me what they really think.” What is he saying there? That’s what I’m talking about on pleasing. Everybody wants to try to say something that’s going to make the other person not unhappy, not to ruffle their feathers. You’ve heard all of the million and one expressions: “Don’t make the boss uncomfortable,” whatever it is, those are things that sound real good, but if you do it in the right way with respect you can then be well-regarded yourself and be a trusted, trusted advisor to somebody important.
What does that mean, then? You’ve got to innovate to get noticed. You’ve got to be ready to comment on industry issues publically, that is out in social media, wherever it is. Be sure, be careful. Take a look at the topics I’ve put out here on the podcast. Every once in a while I’ll get somebody that says to me (as a matter of fact, the last time was two days ago): “I like that topic, but did you get a lot of feedback and flak from that?” No, not a single one. I made sure what I was talking about I was saying it as well as I could, but I still kind of sometimes expect to get some flak from some people, but it doesn’t happen. I’m trying to open awareness, open ideas to people, create great content. When we’re talking about social proof, the comments and things that come back, you take a look at the reviews on my podcast, and that gets to publish something if you can, whether it be a book, an article, or something, but something you can refer to that starts getting credibility. What you’re doing is you’re creating a brand for yourself. When you create that brand, covet it.
Ignore all the recommendations you’re going to hear, and I hear them all the time, to state that you are an authority and learn on the way. You do that, and if people find out you’re not or realize that you’re not, that you’re learning along the way, it’s going to be a long time to overcome that breakdown on your reputation. Realize that authority can be transitory, just like your reputation of quality. There are consequences for actions. Think of all of the things that have happened to cars, to phones, etc. I think of Samsung Note 7 right now, think of the cars in the back that all of a sudden something happened and it destroyed the reputation of the car company.
You’ve got to establish credibility. You want to use authority as something that actually will create your brand. So you want to establish yourself as an authority and be recognized as an authority.
As I said, next time I’m going to discuss about mastering a skill or an expertise, and that’s when we’ll get into it. Keep in mind I wanted to discuss this one first because I wanted to get the idea that it is not something that’s transitory, and it is something that’s going to require a great deal of work and a great deal of effort, and it’s something that you have to be careful not to bruise or damage along the way. You not only want to establish authority, but maintain it.
Good luck. Thank you very much.