Articles, videos and books espouse the idea that leaders must be able to influence without authority. Maybe this is partially true; the days of “because I told you so” are long gone. However, I agree with Jeffrey Gitomer (despite his continual references to leaders as “he” or “him”) that you can’t actually influence unless you have authority within the organization to do so.

Even with an organizational mandate, many leaders struggle to get things done when they’re working laterally within the organization. These are some essential ingredients to influence others when you’re not their boss:

Be a person of integrity. Without the respect of your colleagues, you don’t have the credibility to influence.

Stay focused on the shared vision. Don’t make your request about you and what you need. Communicate the organization’s vision and how this work achieves it.

Build relationships. Gain an understanding of the people you need to influence – their goals and what’s important to them. Make this sharing a two-way street, cluing them in to what makes you tick. This will make it easier for you to communicate, without being manipulative about it. People are more apt to help out a friendly colleague, and they can smell a fake a mile away.

Help others plan, but don’t bail them out.  Resist the urge to “help” if that means you take on duties that aren’t yours. Offer to help brainstorm, push back another deadline or advocate with others so that the top priority work gets done.

What are the most compelling qualities of a top influencer? It’s a mixture of passionate commitment to the necessary outcome, transparency about why it’s important and and an open mind about how to achieve the goal together.


We can help you mix up some powerful influence juice. 

Photo from iStockphoto.