- Job = what you need to do. May come with rank in a hierarchy. Assigned
- Role = how you manage yourself in response to a constantly changing environment. Chosen
- Authority = your leadership influence. Earned
Your job does not define how you behave in a situation or determine your leadership influence. Job, role and authority each come from a different source and respond to different circumstances. They will never perfectly align.
Your job may provide authority over some of your network. The impact you have in one interaction may give you authority in another part of your network. Frustratingly, it is equally likely that they both will not.
When we see hierarchies, we confuse these three distinct concepts. We think the hierarchy determines, and more commonly limits, our actions and our influence.
The role you play is your choice. The influence you have can only be earned from others.
Hierarchies might give you a job. Hierarchies rarely help you do it. Let the poor hierarchy be. Stripped of roles and authority, a hierarchy is harmless enough.
You determine your actions in each context. Your network gives you the power.
Choose to have influence.
PS: For a richer discussion of these concepts and tools to help, read The Australian Leadership Paradox by Liz Skelton and Geoff Aigner