My staffers don't seem to listen to me because I have a slight build and a soft voice. How do I convey authority when I don't have an authoritative look?
Authority isn't always linked to a brawny stature or a baritone voice. Instead, the key is to convey credibility, i.e., the quality of being believed and accepted in your role. There are several ways to go about accomplishing this.
The first is to dress for success. Your appearance plays a large part in how others perceive you, so it's important to choose clothing that's practical, professional, and on the conservative side. Restrained attire suggests to others that you possess a gravity rooted in experience and responsibility.
Second, know what you are talking about, and try to be positive and encouraging. People look up to those who are well-informed, so stay on top of your field in an effort to master your trade. And as former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell said, "Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier." Your optimistic outlook will help turn a group into a team, and will bolster your status as its leader.
Last, keep control of meetings. Don't let conferences veer off into unproductive digressions, as staffers will equate that with indecisiveness. When someone starts a detour, verbally redirect the conversation.
By following these steps, you'll find that standing taller in your staffers' eyes isn't always a matter of height, but one of integrity and competence.