What if you have a great idea to implement, but you aren’t calling the shots? Maybe a bone-headed boss is in the way. If you are a consultant, maybe a client won’t greenlight it. Perhaps you are brilliant but just the unproven new kid. So, how do you Influence without authority—to use the popular business term? How do you steadily build influence when you aren’t in charge? Here are 7 tips to gain influence:
1. Stay calm and ON IT in a crisis. Clients remember it. Management takes note.
2. Gain a reputation for bravely bringing news to the team–even if they kill the messenger (you)
3. Remember, you don’t get what you deserve. You get what you negotiate. Business, unlike Boy Scouts, is not a meritocracy. Life isn’t fair. Let that one go.
4. Help the group clarify their REAL motives. People publicly say one thing but think another. Help your team see beyond what just sounds smart. Help your team understand their real motives (to look good to the boss, to save face in front of competition, etc.). Only then can they solve the real friggin’ problem.
5. Learn the art of Seizing the Floor and Reframing the Conversation: Don’t just chime in like a bulldozer or pander by seeming to agree –then quickly changing the subject to your agenda. Instead GENUINELY acknowledge speaker’s ideas in two authentic, distinct ways. (I like that you brought up XYZ now because …Your point helps the group remember our past success…) Only then do you transition with: “Hmmm, you know what would really gain us traction… (pregnant pause) is if we…” Then introduce your solution.
6. Find leaders overlapping interests and become a Super-Connector. Generously share what and who you know. Always return favors. People hold grudges if they help and you never do. We all love to get insider intell. Research leader’s pet projects, work passions and outside causes. Quietly hook them up. For instance, you know that Leader A and Leader B both want to bring more girls into tech and science careers. So introduce them to a S.T.E.M. (science, tech, engineering and math) conference panel looking for panelists. Super-connector people are remembered.
7. Align with resistant stakeholders–before your big presentation, especially if you have to pitch something controversial. Ask for their input and factor it in to your speech. Help their decision-making by explaining 3 options in this order: First option: Describe what they THINK they want. 2nd: Explain safe, boring path. Third, describe your exciting, high impact/low risk option.
In your career, what else helps people build influence without authority?
Fleischer Communications offers private Speechwriting-Speech Coaching and popular COOL UNDER FIRE workshops, customized for your company.