By: Eric Betts
Pulling rank is often seen as a sign of strength, but it can actually be a sign of weakness. When people feel the need to assert their authority over others, it can be a sign that they are insecure, “losing their grip,” or lack confidence in their own abilities. This is not how you want to be thought of as a leader. In my work as a clergyperson, it reminds me of those men who feel the need to quote Paul’s words in Ephesians about submission, to twist the arms of their wives into obedience. I have always said, “If you must quote it, you have already lost your power.”
The sign of real strength is the power of influence apart from one’s title, credentials, or work experience. It may be the case that one can be perceived as power tripping when this is not actually the case; the person may simply be stating the reason why they are giving the instruction. However, it is the motivation behind feeling the need to remind team members of one’s credentials, title, or positional authority. Most people know the difference. This too often creates toxic emotions in the workplace, which demoralizes the team. One particular field of service where rank is understood and valued is the military. Yet, there are even leaders in the military who make the case that pulling rank is a bad idea.
Steve Leonard is a former senior military strategist who writes for ClearanceJobs, an online magazine. He says: If you’re in a position of authority, that speaks for itself. You don’t have to browbeat others or resort to feats of strength to prove your worth. Do you feel threatened by other opinions that are different from yours? Does someone junior to you with more experience in an area cause you to question your value? Maybe it’s you and not them…If you feel compelled to remind everyone in the room that you’re in charge, then you’re really not. The “just do what you’re told” approach doesn’t sell well to others. Nor do other phrases that seek to establish your dominance over the group.
The value of the leader’s work, her results, consistency, and respect for others is what makes one persuasive and not necessarily the title or position. Oftentimes it can come across as belittling and putting down others, as if their lack of rank or positional authority makes their opinions invalid.
“Pulling rank,” according to Merriam-Webster, is a term used to describe the act of using one’s position or authority to gain an advantage over others. While it may seem like an effective way to get things done, it can often lead to negative consequences such as resentment, mistrust, and a lack of cooperation from others. Some of the problems, identified in wikiHow, associated with pulling rank include the following:
· A hostile work environment where people feel undervalued and disrespected.
· A lack of trust between colleagues, which can make it difficult to work together effectively.
· An environment of resentment and anger among those who feel that they are being unfairly treated.
· A lack of cooperation and communication, which can hinder productivity and progress.
Merriam-Webster adds that pulling rank can be considered manipulative. It is a way of using one’s high position in a society, organization, group, etc. to order someone to do something or to get special treatment or privileges. According to wikiHow, it is a form of manipulation or one-upmanship to get what you want without being considerate of the other person’s feelings, experience, or knowledge and without being concerned at how arrogant or single-minded you’re coming across. It is important to avoid pulling rank as it can lead to negative consequences in personal and professional relationships. If
you find yourself doing it often, consider seeking collaborative, negotiated, or compromised approaches to your relationships with others.
Power tripping is a common phenomenon that can occur in any setting where there is a power dynamic at play. In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in the power struggle and lose sight of what’s really important. Avoiding power tripping is essential to maintaining healthy relationships and achieving success in both personal and professional life.
Moreover, wikiHow provides several alternatives to pulling rank that can help you achieve your goals without resorting to manipulative tactics with the following suggestions, which I find valuable:
· Collaboration: Work with others to achieve common goals. This can help build trust and respect among colleagues and can lead to more effective outcomes.
· Empathy: Try to understand the perspectives and needs of others. This can help you build stronger relationships and create a more positive work environment.
· Active listening: Listen carefully to what others must say and try to understand their point of view. This can help you build stronger relationships and create a more positive work environment.
· Compromise: Be willing to compromise and find common ground with others. This can help you build stronger relationships and create a more positive work environment.
· Persuasion: Use persuasion to convince others to see things from your point of view. This can be more effective than using your position or authority to get what you want.
· Lead by example: Set a good example for others by treating them with respect and empathy. This can help create a positive and productive work environment.
By using these alternatives, you can build stronger relationships with your colleagues, create a more positive work environment, and achieve your goals in a more effective and ethical way. Building relationships and setting the right example is a much better approach than power tripping and pulling rank. It helps to create a positive environment where everyone feels valued and respected. It also promotes a higher level of teamwork, togetherness, and mutual understanding, which are essential for achieving success in both personal and professional life. Remember, true power comes from leading by example and inspiring others to do the same. By building relationships and “walking the walk,” your words will have much more weight and credibility within the team. It is a much better approach than power tripping and pulling rank. This creates a culture of teamwork, collaboration, and mutual understanding, which are essential for achieving success in both personal and professional life. An expression that aligns with this concept is the “we are all in this together” mindset, rather than the “big I and little you” attitude.
By: Eric Betts, Udemy Instructor in Religion, Leadership and Ethics