We know what you’re thinking…”Influence without positional authority” sounds like an oxymoron and if uttered in the organization, you believe you will have employees wondering about your sanity.
Everyone knows that the only way you will get things done in an organization is to use your authoritative position as a reason for your employees (and others) to listen to you.
Well – no.
We’re telling you right now, influence without positional authority is not only possible, it’s essential if you want to achieve anything meaningful in your organization. And, you must exercise it to evoke positive change.
And yes, it can be used with your employees, but it can also be used with you peers and with your boss. We all live in a 360-degree organizational world. We have yet to meet one executive who can achieve the results desired solely by using positional authority
As you delve deeper within this article, you will soon realize that you can motivate others to higher levels of performance and also impact positively not only the morale of your employees, but also the morale of your peers. The result – you get more work done and a higher level of cooperation. It’s not the Holy Grail, but it is a critical ingredient to getting work done in an organization
Influencing without Positional Authority Strategy #1:
Build Positive Relationships
We estimate that more than 80% of the time we spend as coaches to high-performance leaders – is spent on helping leaders manage the transition and work their way through performance issues with others.
You will fast-track and gain altitude in your career as a leader when you learn and practice the keys to building strong, effective interpersonal relationships with others. And, it starts with recognizing that nothing happens until a relationship is developed.
Building a relationship includes:
- Having the other person’s best interest in mind – win-win verses win-lose
- Understanding and respecting the other person’s work style and key needs/expectations
- Understanding and respecting personality differences
- Finding areas of mutual interest
- Using exchange principles to enhance the relationship
Influencing without Positional Authority Strategy #2:
Honor the Law of Reciprocation
The law of reciprocation involves a mutual value for value exchange. To effectively engage in the law of reciprocation, you must identify what the recipient values. And we have much more to offer than many of us realize. For example:
- Resources — Money/funding, personnel, space
- Information – Competitive intelligence, industry trends, upcoming changes
- Organizational support – -Providing support and resources for meetings or projects
- Personal support — Being readily available and supportive when a person is stressed, vulnerable or perhaps just needs someone listen to them
- Reliability — Doing what you say when you say you will do it
- Gratitude –Saying thank you, expressing appreciation for a person’s contribution in a way that is meaningful to them
- Excellence in service — Producing beyond the expectation of the other person
- Vision — Identifying the future direction, portraying excitement and confidence in the future, and in the outcome of the project
- Rapid response — This is self-explanatory
- Recognition –It can be an award, a new project assignment or praise at a public meeting
No matter what you offer, it must be meaningful to the recipient. Just because we think we are providing something of value does not mean the recipient agrees with us. To determine what is meaningful, we need to understand issues such as:
- What do they need to succeed?
- How are they measured on their performance?
- How are they rewarded? And what is their greatest reward?
- Career objectives
- Their key concerns (or fears if they will share it with you)
- Key expectations (of their boss, peers, subordinates, their constituents)
- Recognition / Privacy. Preferences of the individual and considering the culture of the organization
- Interests outside the organization
This means you must first build a relationship!
Influencing without Positional Authority Strategy #3:
Participate in Healthy Conflict
It’s possible that as you work to influence others without positional authority, that conflict will arise. Employees and team members will push back, argue, and disagree?
Let’s face it, some people like to argue, negotiate and play devils advocate. In other words “they love a good fight”.
Take note: Conflict is NOT bad or wrong. Engaged in the right way, conflict is good. In fact, it’s not only good, it’s essential for organizational growth and development. “Healthy conflict”, that is vibrant and candid leads to:
- Expanding ideas and perspectives
- Identifying more options
- Better decisions
- Inclusion (individual value and contribution) rather than reinforcing exclusion and a natural futility when not being heard
So learn how to appreciate and participate in healthy conflict.
Remember, a successful leadership career requires more that the hard skills we learn in school. Success also requires that we recognize and master the intangibles of successful management. And one of the more powerful intangibles that is important to master is the ability to influence others without authority. It will provide you with leverage and enable you to garner more support than you would ever achieve on your own or through positional authority alone.
© 2011 – 2015, Tony Kubica and Sara LaForest. All rights reserved.