A mentor of mine, Sharon Daloz Parks, and her teachers, Ron Heifetz, and Marty Linksy from the
For example, I've used authority given to me by an organization to ensure that staff meet preset standards of accuracy in producing documents to send to clients; there can be no spelling, or grammatical mistakes in any document that is sent to a client.
This authority is given to me by my boss and her boss above her, and is most probably backed up by documented policy. When I manage, I am more often exercising an externally based authority.
I've also led and supported people during mergers, where everything, including jobs, were thrown up in the air and no one was really sure where they would land. There was in fact no policy book. My boss and her boss knew no more than I did, and so externally based authority was tentatively resting on my job title, at best.
The authority I had to trust was what we might call my inner authority-the wisdom gained through experience, the strength found through doing the right thing, the core strength found through behaving with integrity and courage.
In the midst of a merger between two departments, some years ago, I watched a colleague and mentor work through the restructuring of the two departments, and realize that the best way to find the sought after savings was to lay himself off. He recommended that his job be the one eliminated. His recommendation was chosen.
In later years he commented that he gained so much from that decision for himself, in terms of strength, recognition of his own courage and integrity. He gained an irreducible inner authority. For the people he left behind, he gave a legacy of courage and integrity that many of us had not seen before, and that in and of itself was inspirational.
It is only through such journeys, into challenging and difficult times, that we uncover our inner authority, and we discover the Christ within. And in doing so, we become better people, and better leaders.
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