Can you achieve results without authority?
The simple answer is yes.
The challenge is how to do it.
Each of us have a limited amount of authority. And the positional authority that comes with our title enables us to have some influence, but far less than what is required to get the work done. In order to get things done on time and with the highest quality expected so you can meet the demands and expectations of our customers and those with whom we work, we need to rely on others. And to do that, we need influence – but the right kind of influence.
Influence is a Leadership Quality and a Management Skill
Influence is the ability to achieve our objective (to get work done) when we do not have complete control or enough authority to accomplish our objective. Influence is not manipulation. Done well and done right, influence is also not:
- A demonstration of power
- A method to gain greater control
- A way to promote your personal agenda
- A way to look good to others in the organization
- A means of self-promotion
Influence is about mutuality.
While influence is a powerful tool for getting work done, there are barriers that can stand in your way of influencing others. These barriers cause us to rely on positional authority to get things done.
10 Barriers You Need to Overcome to Influence Employees and Your Peers
1. Fear – This is the number one issue that stops us from using influence to get work done. And fear appears in many forms. It can be the fear of failure, the fear of being rejected, the fear of appearing foolish, the fear that we are not good enough. Regardless of what you are afraid of, fear stops us dead in our tracks. We don’t succeed, we don’t exert influence because we’ve convinced ourselves before we even start that we may not or will not be successful.
2. Inability to develop real relationships — People work with people they like. They buy from people they like. They provide support to people they like. To think otherwise is to miss an important component of organizational success. It is impossible to exert influence on someone with whom you have not developed a real and positive relationship.
3. Poor responsiveness — The quicker you respond the more responsive you appear. And if response is important to the person you want to influence, you have just made a positive impression on them, and have often added value by a giving them something they were interested in.
4. Overselling – This is not just an issue we see in sales people; it is an issue we see throughout an organization regardless of an individual’s position. Overselling is annoying and it also communicates uncertainty in your position. When a person says yes, and you continue to try to convince them– what are you really communicating?
5. Quitting at No – Now, nobody likes rejection. Yet “no” is sometimes the response we get when the timing of the request is wrong (i.e.,“no, not right now”or “no, I need more information”). Oftentimes, an objection is not a rejection. It’s a request for more information and an opportunity for further discussion. Don’t let no be an immediate lost opportunity.
6. Perfectionism — Too often, we believe that unless a project, proposal, request is perfectly framed, it cannot move forward. This is dead wrong. Perfection sends an unintended message of you being indecisiveness and in the worse case it can create immobilization. While you may believe you are striving for perfection, the other person wonders what’s taking you so long.
7. Over-Expressing Personal Beliefs — Some managers and executives just can’t seem to keep their opinions to themselves. Have you heard a manager criticize their peers, their tenants, their subcontractors with statements such as “they just don’t get it”. Another danger is to express personal political or social beliefs such as “the democrats version of healthcare is socialized medicine” or “teachers are overpaid and they underperform”. Expressing personal beliefs has a way of tearing through an organization and irritating others. (By the way, these two examples are examples only and do not reflect either of our beliefs.)
8. Lack of Focus — It’s difficult to get work done or to garner much respect if you go from one project to another; one idea to another; one strategy to another and finish nothing. Often people will just give up, quit listening or no longer support your efforts.
9. Poor Impression Management (Executive Presence) — This is not just about looking the part. It’s about being the part. It’s about managing your image thoughtfully and not artificially. Like it or not, unsuitably presented, tired, overweight, out of shape, sloppy people present a poor and unconvincing image.
10. Lack of Gratitude — People like recognition; they like to know they are appreciated; they like to be noticed in a positive way. Ignore this at your peril. Remember, if you are unwilling or think it’s unnecessary to recognize and express appreciation for others, your chance of influencing them is remote.
Is One of the Top 10 Barriers Holding You Back From Influencing Others?
We have often found that one or more of the above behavioral traits is present in individuals who believe (or who others believe) are less successful then they either want to be or can be. These behaviors are the intangibles that inhibit good performance. We believe these intangibles are so important to recognize and attend to (if you see these in your own thought processes or behaviors) that should you refuse to address them, you will come up short of exerting the influence necessary to get work done on time the right way.
© 2010 – 2015, Tony Kubica and Sara LaForest. All rights reserved.