You and other service professionals share a common trait that drives you to the profession. It’s called autonomy. It’s a positive trait that is really important to you—one of the benefits that contributes to your sense of fulfillment. When you are unable to enjoy your freedom, you feel less energized and less motivated.
The importance of autonomy is evidenced by the behavior of professionals when they become managers and partners. Along with the announcement, they tend to assume an attitude of “you can’t tell me what to do” and “I can do what I want.” You believe that autonomy to do what you want was earned and you deserve that right as a privilege—so much so that you resist it when it is being questioned, threatened or interfered with.
While your autonomy is important to you, it’s a slippery slope. The attitude that exercising your sovereignty over other responsibilities and obligations isn’t very professional because your firm relies on those practices for the good of clients, your colleagues and the firm.
Sometimes it’s easy to miss when you have slipped down that slope too far. When someone points out your autonomous overreach, instead of listening, understanding and adjusting your behavior, you may become defensive and state that you are within your rights to behave as such. Or you may point out that others do the same thing (as if that’s even an argument). Just like anything else, something that is good can be taken to excess. To prevent it, you have to self-regulate.
This week, assume the responsibility to keep your autonomy in check and avoid the negative optics that may result. Look closely in the mirror and determine where you are extending your autonomous benefit beyond its intention and reel it back.