Recognising Challenging Personality Differences: Part 4 – Authorities

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The realisation that we alone are not the only egos in this world is central to the pleasers phase, which forms stage three of Levinson’s model. This Eureka moment for most will occur in early life, before the teenage years. As we grow increasingly tired of operating as a pleaser and trying to live up to the expectations and images other people have of us, the maturing teenage mind learns that while there are other egos at play, there are also whole systems or groups of egos we belong to. It is this knowledge that speeds our personalities from pleaser behaviour to the fourth stage of Levinson’s model: the authority phase.

The authority phase mantra

By the time we start secondary school we have the social awareness and understanding of group dynamics to know who we can sit next to during lunch, who we can hang out with after school and who we should invite to the school dance. There are very few of us who dare to break these boundaries. This fear of the unknown breeds an “us versus them” mentality, which soon leads to stereotyping and other forms of prejudice. Our teenage years are commonly defined by the belief that anyone who doesn’t fit our model of what we believe is right is both inferior and undesirable.

Characteristics of the authority phase

10 percent of the population exhibit the authority phase as their predominant personality type. Professionally, they tend to society’s rule makers with jobs as doctors, lawyers, business leaders, experts, how-to writers and therapists, who many people rely on to dictate how they should dress, what they should eat and how they should live their lives.

The characteristics of the authority phase include:
• A need for rules
• Respect of laws and authority figures
• The requirement for guidance from experts on how they should behave
• The tendency to be overly judgemental
• The idea that there is only one way of accomplishing a particular task

The dominant needs of authorities are social. They surround themselves with an active network of people who fit the binary labels they apply to themselves, an example of which might be: male, intelligent and middle class.

Working with authorities

Authorities typically have an inflexible, rigid and dictatorial approach to their work. They are often bound up by bureaucracy and become a stickler for rules. They follow official policies and procedures by the letter, often at the expense of productivity. Despite being “know-it-all” perfectionists, they quickly become dissatisfied by their work as the success they experience is a result of the expertise of others. They can also be intolerant of the working practices of others and arrogantly believe that their way is the best way.

Selling to authorities

Your best approach when attempting to sell to an authority is to avoid any overly friendly gestures which would only be greeted with suspicion. Instead, win them over with attention to detail and cold hard logic. Stick to the facts, appeal to their need for tried and tested systems and policies and quote respected industry experts to verify your main sales points.

What do you think?

Have you had a challenging sales encounter with an authority personality type? How did you overcome these challenges and turn the conversation in your favour? We’d love to hear from you. Please leave your comment below or contact us with your thoughts.  

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Rod co-founded LiveseySolar and acts as a Fractional CMO for our customers. He’s on a mission to help transform the lives of 10,000 people with vision correction surgery by 2024. To achieve that, he inspires his customers to make confident decisions that will help 50,000 people take the first step towards vision correction.

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