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During A Crisis At Work, Expanding Your Authority and Power
6 Apr 2020

Expanding Your Authority And Power At Work During A Crisis

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Nothing powers change as crises do. They are great for expanding your authority and power at work, and for pushing through new projects too.

That’s because 90-95% of the people freeze during a crisis. They’re fearful. They look to leaders, seeking direction. That means those people will do what they’re told. Moreover, they’ll do it without arguing and without resisting.


Rahm Emanuel: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

Pushing Fear And Confidence

Tapping into this freeze means pushing fear and confidence. People will do almost anything and agree to almost anything when they are afraid. Then, it’s a matter of reassuring them they’ll get through this. Finally, here’s the plan. It’s storytelling 101.

Now, depending on the severity of the crisis, reinforcing fear might not be hard. People tend to overestimate the threat “just to be safe.” They’ll see others who don’t as reckless. So, it’s not wise to discount their fears. It’s better to reinforce them.

Expanding Your Authority

Crises at work create openings for expanding your authority and power.

Nothing powers change as crises do. They are great for expanding your authority and power at work, and for pushing through new projects too.

Of course, the real trick links the crisis to expanding your authority. So, four general themes exist:

  1. Safety – make the business, its employees safer
  2. Certainty – promote plans, processes and procedures
  3. Diversifying – expanding the business model’s base
  4. Centralization – getting all “on the same page.”

The best thing to do is pull those ideas of yours that got shelved. Push the “I told you so” story that “If we had done ‘X,’ this would not have happened, so if we do this now, we can minimize this crisis.”

In compliance-related fields it means pushing new safety procedures and policies (certainty). In operational fields, it means pushing the centralizing of functions, resources and data to gain greater control (certainty). In revenue-related fields, it means pushing new products, services and marketing (diversifying).

Expanding Authority And Power At Any Level

Leaders are people. Crises test them. Most freeze as others do. It’s different though. They’ll look to subordinates with answers. They can’t look up because no one’s there. Thus, expanding your authority and power at work can work at any level. You don’t need to be at the top.

Here, the bombing on 9/11 serves as a great example of this. The crisis was expansive. It crossed many turfs. In the end, the potential for more harm from debris, chemicals and gases in various parts of the wreckage along with a sense of urgency determined who made the decisions, not an org chart.

In the end, once authority and power expands, it rarely recedes. The gains from a crisis are rarely lost unless all becomes lost. Still, even if expanding your authority and power at work during a crises is not possible, at least you will know those who are working hard to expand theirs.

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