There are three things we can do when faced with a challenge to our authority that upstages our leadership presence:
Speak up about it with the person who is upstaging you.
This step involves facing and neutralizing negativity by letting the other person know how their behavior affected you. You can empathize with them by observing that they might not have realized the impact of their behavior. Help them to see that their behavior had an adverse impact on your authority, credibility, etc. Stay calm, centered, and grounded as you deliver this feedback. Pause and ask for the other person’s reaction.
Remain calm and composed in the face of their defensiveness.
Expect the other person to explain their intention, defend their behavior, and even tell you that you are over-reacting. Listen non-judgmentally and don’t defend yourself. Stay calm and composed. Simply let them know that this is how you see things and then….
Request a different behavior of the other person.
It’s important to make your request centered on the other’s behavior. This person may not “get” how their behavior has a negative impact on you, but this is not what is most important – it’s their willingness to actively…
- Leave the room
- Stay quiet when you are giving directions to your team
- Make supportive statements when you are delivering your suggestion, etc.
Be clear with your request, using a lower-pitched vocal tone that denotes confidence vs. a higher plaintive “asking” tone.
These discussions may feel risky to you, but they help your authoritative presence by educating those around you and generating more respectful behavior.