Think you are not status orientated? Think again.

Imagine not having a clear role. Or never getting recognition for your efforts – at work or at home. These are just two among many ways that our need for status can knock us.

Consider Simon who recently chose to step out of a sales role so he could create a position as an internal coach in his organisation. He hasn’t clearly defined the new role yet, although he is excited about it. Simon’s colleagues don’t know what the new role is about, they just know he’s not the sales guy anymore and they don’t know how to relate to him.

When Simon attends a gathering for the office staff, he doesn’t know who to hang out with or what to talk about. He wonders about his identity: “Who am I now?” and “What’s my connection to these people?”  Feeling lost, he leaves the event early.

The discomfort or even anger you feel in these situations reveals your need for status. Status is not about being in the alpha position, but about you having a clear role and being acknowledged and appreciated.

This is human nature. Our emotional brain has been programmed to send out an alert when our position in the tribe is unclear. It creates discomfort and stress. On the other hand, the brain gives us feel-good messages when our contributions are understood and appreciated.

There are many ways to trigger the need for status

  • Create a brand-new role or designation.
  • Step into a role that is very different from what you are used to, even if it is prestigious.
  • Quit your job to build your own business.
  • Retire.
  • Let go of a special role but still maintain connections with the same people. For example, imagine being the person who organised parties, brought treats to the office, but now everyone is working from home. Without your role, you would feel that you lost some of your uniqueness and identity.

Here are some top tips for managing status needs in you or others

  • Recognise stress or discomfort related to roles or recognition. See if you can clarify your position or ask for feedback (specifically ask what you do well).
  • Respect others for their contributions and help them feel clear in their role.
  • Understand that status is a human need and we are all driven by this need to some extent.