In many organizations, lines of authority and reporting are complex. You may have more than one boss or be tasked with leading a cross-functional team where no one reports to you. Leading within this type of organizational structure can be challenging if you're accustomed to leading dedicated resources with clear, hierarchical reporting. Without consistent and clear lines of reporting, a leader must develop interpersonal skills to influence without authority.
These 3 essential skills can boost your ability to influence others:
- BUILD AN INFORMAL NETWORK OF RELATIONSHIPS ACROSS THE ORGANIZATION.
This gives you resources to call on, and count on, when you:
- have to balance the demands of multiple organizations,
- need off-team expertise,
- want to see how the project fits into the bigger picture,
- have questions or want a different perspective,
- want to build trust and organizational "currency".
- FLAG ISSUES EARLY AND PROACTIVELY.
No one likes surprises. Don't chance a last-minute fire drill if you can avoid it. Calibrate and raise issues directly to the people affected as early as possible so that you have time and can gain access to the resources needed to address issues effectively.
- LISTEN TO UNDERSTAND THE SPECIFIC GOALS OF MULTIPLE BOSSES.
You are listening not only for their specific goals, but the trade-offs they are making, for example between a function and a product line or between geography and a customer channel. Synthesize what you are hearing from multiple people. Articulate the trade-offs so everyone is aware of them.
Over time, you’re likely to work with many different people in varied functions. With a solid network, you can build on existing relationships to jumpstart your productivity. By flagging issues and articulating trade-offs you establish trust. Your organizational "currency" gains value when you're the one who knows and has access to the right people. You become a highly desired leader.
It’s not just what successful leaders do, but how they do it that's key. In our next blog, learn actionable steps seasoned leaders take that demonstrate how to influence without authority. Subscribe to our blog so you won't miss it!
Pamela Roller is Director of Client Operations at Insight Experience, a Boston-based firm delivering contextually rich, immersive business simulations and learning experiences to accelerate and integrate leadership, business acumen and strategy execution.