Know Your Limits! The Benefits and Dangers of an Authoritative Uniform

[caption id="attachment_1414" align="alignnone" width="2048"]Police Brutality Image source: Freethoughtblogs.com[/caption]   Do you want to be a leader? People spend thousands of dollars going to seminars and reading top-selling books trying to figure out how to harness charisma, that irresistible and critical quality of a good leader. There are a million different tricks to use: maintain eye contact; smile when you talk to people; be assertive; lift weights to appear more physically intimidating; shake hands warmly; remember peoples' names. Or, you could always just put on a custom authoritative uniform.   If you think about it, it's really crazy how quickly a uniform can transform an average Joe into a symbol of authority. Put on a blue security uniform, wear a badge, put a few weapons on your belt, and suddenly people are more willing to listen to your commands. I've even got the science to back it up.   Is that a good thing? Well, sure, assuming you know how to use it. A good uniform is a powerful tool for security guards, safety inspection officials, managers, and other workers who rely on the compliance of strangers. But you have to be careful -- authority inherently has a dark side.   Yep, kind of like Darth Vader and the Force. Is being able to choke people with your mind useful if you're trying to maintain intergalactic dominance? Definitely! But abusing your power will gradually twist you into a being of pure evil who walks around with a black cape, blowing up planets while ominous music plays in the background.   http://youtu.be/Zzs-OvfG8tE   OK, maybe I'm being a little bit over dramatic. Putting on a uniform won't turn you into Darth Vader, but you do have to be careful about the power of authority figures. This is especially true if you're a company owner and you're giving your employees power over other employees or civilians.   Do you remember in the news a while back about that strip search prank call? Some random guy called up a McDonald's store claiming that he was a police officer, and he then told the manager to strip search a female employee. And the boss complied! The victim then turned around and sued the fast food chain, earning a $6 million award.   That's just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of stories of people abusing authority to take advantage of others. There's police brutality, security guards who overstep their bounds, managers who sexually harass employees, and of course the Catholic pedophilia scandal.   Custom uniforms are an invaluable tool for companies, but they have to be used correctly. Otherwise, a business owners could face expensive law suits, bad press, or even jail time. I'm reminded of that old Spiderman quote: "With great power comes great responsibility."   [caption id="attachment_1415" align="aligncenter" width="504"]Police Brutality Comic Image source: Occupyforaccountability.org[/caption]   You should install some system of checks and balances within your company. Make sure that your employees are able to circumvent their immediate supervisors and complain to the big boss if something goes wrong. One bad link in the chain of command will leave the higher-ups oblivious to the misery and abuse at the lower levels of management.   You also need to make sure that your employees don't overstep their bounds with customers. Does your manager have the authority to deny a customer access to your warehouse? Definitely, and on top of that your security guards have the authority to drag that customer away. But can your security guards beat customers who disobey? Lock them up for hours because of suspicious behavior? Perform strip searches? No, no, no.   Don't be scared off by authoritative uniforms -- they're invaluable for small business. Just be sure that you train your employees so that they don't abuse that power.  

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