Leading Without Authority

Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “Influence without authority.”  We equate influence with leadership.  In our observation there are many times people need to lead or influence others when they do not have the positional authority of a leader.
A few tips on leading without authority:

  • Get Clear – what is it that you want or need? If you do not get clear and specific about the outcome you want, it’s very difficult to influence people in that direction.
  • Get input – You’ll get far better results if you commit to and advocate for a desired outcome but invite others to participate in defining the process for achieving that outcome. This is what buy-in is all about. Getting others involved in the accomplishment of the outcome.
  • Get permission – Earn the right to influence. This means being present and following through on your commitments no matter how big or small. Dan Sullivan of the Strategic Coach© talks about the four habits of referability. The habits are, show up on time, do what you say you are going to do, finish what you start and say “please” and “thank you.”  These small practices earn you the right to influence others.
  • Get connected – cultivate a relationship with peers and bring them into a supportive role. You will get a lot further in your influence when there are several people who are collectively advocating your position. This is about coalition creation. View everyone as a potential ally and create connections through positive action.
  • Give – Build Relationship Currency by applying the influence principle of reciprocity. Reach out to help people and accept their requests to provide support on a regular basis. This can’t come across as an exchange. However, the principle of reciprocity means that you can cash in some of the currency that you’ve banked and use it to solicit support when needed.

In matrix organizations, it’s easy to get lost in the chaos of competing goals, deadlines, and battles for resources and forget that everyone is ultimately working toward collective organizational success. Get clear, get input, get permission, get connected and give in order to boost your ability to lead without authority.

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