Why You Should Stop Being So Submissive at Work

Why You Should Stop Being So Submissive at Work
Avatar photo
Written by Jenna Rodrigues

Rather than questioning your own intellectual abilities, you should be challenging the underlying assumption that your manager is intellectually superior to you in the first place….

When employees start a new job, they often come in with an underlying assumption that their boss is ‘better’ or more superior in one way or another. Simply because someone tells you that a particular individual is your manager, you start flooding your mind with these follow-up assumptions – that she is smarter than you, has more industry experience, is a better problem-solver, is a more effective communicator, and the list goes on. However, this is often not the case.

Why You Should Stop Being So Submissive at Work

Title Isn’t Everything

Yet by convincing yourself that your boss is intellectually superior to you simply because she is higher up in the organizational hierarchy, you are making it that much more likely that it is going to stay that way. Your underlying assumptions about the managerial hierarchy instantly makes you question your own competencies in relation to those of your manager.

Rather than questioning your own intellectual abilities, you should be challenging the underlying assumption that your manager is intellectually superior to you in the first place. One might argue that there are many cases in which managers are in fact intellectually superior to their subordinates, and therefore our underlying assumptions about the organizational hierarchy do in fact have merit.

I mean, your manager is your manager for a reason right? While the answer to this question is likely yes, he or she may not have gotten there for the ‘right’ reasons or the reasons that you may think.

Challenge Your Own Assumptions

While an organizational hierarchy often serves as the structural foundation of larger corporations, it is important for employees to recognize that position level is not necessarily predictive of level of intelligence or performance capabilities. Through challenging your own underlying assumptions, you are freeing yourself from the constraints that often hold employees back from reaching their full potential.

Though managers may in fact be ‘superior’ to you in one way or another, it is important that employees come into a new job experience with an open mind, ready to observe and assess for themselves the degree to which this is actually the case.

The various levels of the organizational hierarchy are in place to help employees find the fine line between respecting the decision-making power of authority and challenging the ideas of individuals at all levels of the organizational hierarchy.

Stop Undermining Your Intelligence

While as an employee, you may assume that your manager often sees you as ‘lesser,’ from the perspective of the manager, this is often not the case. In many instances, more agile companies are moving away from a more hierarchical leadership structure to a flatter organizational structure – both in the literal context of organizational role placement and in the more fluid context of organizational innovation.

Given this change in mindset, leaders often do not enter into new employment relationships assuming that they are mentally superior to their subordinates in every way. Strategic leaders hire individuals whom they truly believe have something to bring to the table. They are often willing and ready to embrace a two-way dialogue, where employees’ ideas are frequently factored into high-level decision-making processes.

Change the Power Dynamic

Given the assumptions of the employee are often in opposition to the assumptions of the manager, this creates a divide that employees must overcome in order to maximize their full potential in the workplace. As an employee, it is important to enter into new employment relationships with an open mind, readily evaluating the physical and intellectual capabilities of both parties with an objective eye.

Once you undermine the skewed power dynamic that primarily exists in your own mind, this will increase your inclination to express creative ideas and to collaborate with your manager to the extent that she comes to see you as an intellectual equal.

Through fostering this two-way dialogue and building a stable foundation for corporate collaboration, your manager will often begin to more readily seek out your opinion or ask for your assistance when making higher level organizational decisions.

The more collaborative your working relationship is with your manager, the more likely that your manager will keep your name at the top of the list when it comes time to fill new positions at higher levels in the organizational hierarchy.

Identity Magazine is all about guiding women to discover their powers  of Self-Acceptance,  Appreciation, and Personal  Achievement.  We ask that every contributor and expert answer    the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the  current article they have written.  In that way, and as a team, we hope to  encourage  and motivate  each other, thus inspiring  you to Get All A’s.

1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally?  Additionally, what are you  still working on accepting? Now, we’re talking about resignation, rather stepping into, embraced, and owned.

I have accepted that I am not someone who always does what I am told and simply follows the rules. I can’t help but challenge conventions and test my own assumptions in order to improve my understanding of the world around me.

2. What have you learned to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally?  On the other hand  OR in contrast,  are there elements of who you are that you’re still working on  appreciating?

I have learned to appreciate my ability to see people as human beings as opposed to individuals with a given title who perform a given set of responsibilities.

3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? Tell us  not only  what makes YOU most proud  but also  share the  goals and dreams that you still have.

I am currently working on writing a few books that I hope to finish over the next few months.

4.  Of course, we  all have imperfections,  or  so we think.  In truth,  we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways?  Likewise,  what imperfections and quirks create who you are–your Identity?

Sometimes I push the bounds too much. I always have an opinion and can sometimes come on somewhat strong. I need to work on my ability to listen to others prior to voicing my own opinion.

5. “I Love My…” is an outlet for you to  appreciate and express  all the positive traits that make you…well…YOU!  In fact, sharing  what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (We assure you!)  Therefore,  Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”

I love my ability to challenge conventions.

About the author

Avatar photo

Jenna Rodrigues

Jenna Rodrigues is a Princeton graduate, academic, entrepreneur, actor, and writer. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Management at the University of Connecticut. Jenna conducts research at the intersection of strategic human resources and personnel economics. You can visit her blog, The Inside Game, or follow her on Twitter @jennaxrod and on Instagram @ jenna.rodrigues.

Leave a Comment