Identifying leaders based on their authority expectations


Identifying Leaders from their Authority Expectations

This article on employee expectations looks at authority expectations in the workplace and how they impact on employee engagement.

Top of the list for high performing employees is their chance to act in a position of responsibility, making decisions and taking charge of people to achieve the organisation’s goals.

As with most other desires, it’s one thing to want to be able to lead and another having the necessary traits to succeed.

The organisational view

Discovering authority expectations can help organisations identify those people likely to succeed in a management position, those that still need further training and development, and those that aren’t cut out for it.

It also helps to predict day-to-day work behaviours based on how an individual employee feels about management processes and how their performance is managed.

Does everyone in the group have the same authority expectations?

Finding out what employee’s authority expectations are can be highly enlightening; by using Harrison Assessments engagement and retention analytics we can explore them in detail.

For instance, an individual might have the potential to take on a leadership role but needs to develop the motivation and soft skills for managing their team.

identifying leaders

What can we interpret for this group?

  • This group has a moderate desire to work autonomously. It is important to consider this desire related to the amount of autonomy required or given related to the job. It is also important to consider the tendency to take initiative related to the desire for autonomy.
  • This group has a strong tendency to take initiative and thus, the initiative is sufficient for the amount of autonomy desired. They will have greater motivation if given opportunities to take initiative. Assuming this group has the necessary experience and skills, give opportunities for initiative wherever possible and carefully explain the initiative that can and cannot be taken.
  • This group has only a moderate desire to take a leadership role. And, this group tends to be moderately willing to accept decision-making authority.
  • This group tends to be moderately willing to accept a great deal of structure placed on them by the organisation.

The individual’s authority expectations

Asking the right questions, and analysing each individual employee’s real engagement factors ensures managers and the wider organisation provide an environment that retains the best talent.

identifying leaders

Authority Expectations: Leaders vs. Followers

Authority expectations are key to understanding how individuals relate to the whole structure of a company and where they see the role within it.

They are also a key indicator of how responsive individuals will be to coaching and further development, and what form this should take if the organisation wants to nurture their potential.

Wants Autonomy

  • The desire to have freedom or independence from authority
  • Wanting autonomy can be a sign that someone, of course, doesn’t like being told what to do, or it could be an indication that an employee wants to except the challenge of leading within the company.
  • The idea working towards being ‘your own boss’ is appealing because you don’t have anyone telling you what to do but it also means you are personally responsible when things go wrong. An employee who wants to have greater autonomy will need to handle the pressure and work within the structure of the company and that invariably involves developing new skills.

Takes Initiative

  • The tendency to perceive what is necessary to be accomplished and to proceed on one’s own
  • More and more businesses are now looking for employers who have an ingrained sense of entrepreneurship and who are better able to take the initiative when needed. They don’t simply want people who get on with their day job but those that will come up with new ideas and new directions.
  • Taking the initiative is one thing but can come with consequences if your employee gets it wrong and acts without telling someone. Taking the initiative can have a wider framework than just for those looking to take charge – spotting evidence of good initiative in employees can help mark them as candidates for future development and promotion.

Wants to Lead

  • The desire to be in a position to direct or guide others
  • Despite popular opinion, leaders are made, not born. Someone needs to make a conscious decision to do it and they have to learn the skill sets and undertake the training to achieve their goals and have a clear awareness of where their weaknesses are and how these can be addressed.
  • Just because someone wants to lead a team doesn’t mean that they are likely to be good at it. The urge to be in charge needs to be balanced with the work that has to be done to achieve success and other signs such as lack of self-motivation may be more pertinent indicators of a particular individual’s worth in this area.

Is Authoritative

  • The desire for decision-making authority and the willingness to accept decision-making responsibility
  • Being authoritative is not the same as being a leader. You need to have the capacity or the potential to take a number of staff with you and that only comes from being secure and confident in your communication skills as well as other abilities.

Is Tolerant of Structure

  • The tolerance of following rules, schedules, and procedures created by someone else
  • All businesses have a structure and rules of conduct, hierarchies and the like that apply to staff whether they are working on reception or in the boardroom. A potential top performer who is not tolerant of structure and something of a loose cannon may well have to be given the appropriate advice and training to help bring them into synch with the company ethos.

Using Harrison Assessments Talent Solutions to understand authority expectations

Managers can measure an number of key employee expectations, the intrinsic behaviours that drive individual and group engagement. This helps to understand any differences between an employee as well as looking at the overall group or team’s expectations. These insights facilitate the essential dialogue between employee and manager, fostering a shared responsibility for engagement to build a culture of employee engagement.

Managers can use the Manage, Develop and Retain report as a guide to getting the best performance out of an individual member of their team, and shows how mis-matched communication and management styles could potentially demotivate a talented employee. Instead the report suggests how best to develop and engage the employee, what type of tasks to delegate and behaviours to watch out for that could impede performance.

Employee Engagement White Paper

  • This employee engagement white paper will outline why this is the case and what is needed to achieve a greater impact on organisational performance.
  • It includes some key areas relating to engagement in the workplace and a crucial 3-step guide to assist with the application of engagement analytics.
  • Written by Dan Harrison, Ph.D. – Organisational Psychology, developer and CEO of Harrison Assessments, this white paper is a must read for anyone involved in employee engagement.  Request your copy here –