Authority versus Positioning

We’ve all seen it: ineffable authority stemming from a deep understanding and command of a subject. An almost effortless conveying of the mastery with which the subject is dealt and a feeling of control and balance in their dealings with a subject area that puzzles, mystifies and even terrifies other people.

That’s authority.

Positioning, on the other hand is the attempt to purvey something that is not quite there to be purveyed; to convey a sense of authority beyond the limits of a person’s real command of a subject, and maximising the impression of knowing beyond the real limits of understanding.

A person with authority does not have to think about positioning. If they do, they fall into the same trap – of attempting to appear more commanding, more authoritative than they actually are or, more often, trying to carry that authority into a realm over which they do not have mastery.

Where you have authority, you have control. Where you have genuine knowledge and, more fundamentally understanding, you have authority.

Where you strain for positioning you over-stretch your authority and it is visible to the people who might be tempted to follow you, even if they choose for a time to ignore what they unmistakeably observe. When put to the test, positioning will fail, while authority, real authority stemming from mastery and understanding beyond what the observer can perceive, will endure.

Authority has within it a sense of greater knowledge, a more profound understanding and even what we might be reluctant to attribute to anyone we know to exist in real flesh and blood – wisdom.

Stick to what you really know and understand, or have the wisdom to acquire that knowledge and understanding, and ‘positioning’ will never again be a question, let alone a problem.