Join John Ullmen for an in-depth discussion in this video Influence without authority, part of Executive Leadership.
- Getting great results can kill your career. Really? It's not only true, it's more common than you might think. Driving for results often gets people noticed and promoted, up to a point. Then, how they drive for results suddenly becomes a make or break factor, and by then, it's already too late. What worked for you before, can work against you after. Peter Drucker, a towering figure in the history of management studies and executive effectiveness said this, the executive who keeps on doing what he's done successfully before is almost bound to fail.
At talent reviews in organizations I often hear executives eliminate promotion candidates, saying, he gets things done, but he's damaged relationships, or people often give in to her, but they don't follow her. And as one person told me in a confidential feedback interview about an executive I was asked to coach, who routinely pulled rank on others, I don't care if he fails. If someone treats you badly, you don't want to help them succeed. To get things done like the best executives do, don't rely on the power and status of your position or mere rules and regulations.
Even if you have authority, influence without authority. Here's how to do it. One, use a forward thinking influence plan that helps you get the best results without damaging relationships. Here's a four-step approach I use when coaching leaders. Clarify your desired outcomes. What specifically do you want? Approval of a project or support, input, advice, resources? Whatever it is, be specific. Identify the influencers. These are the decision makers for what you want and the key people they listen to.
Learn what influences the influencers. What are their goals and plans? What are their concerns and fears? What are their driving motives? What do they value? Choose the best methods to influence the influencers. Tailor your approach with each stakeholder based on what you learn about his or her specific priorities, preferences, and the way they tend to deal with people. Help them see how your proposed steps align with their motives and values and help them move toward priorities they want and away from problems they don't.
See my course on influencing others here on Lynda.com for a much more detailed, step-by-step explanation about how to influence people without resorting to rules, regulations, or rank. Finally, in everything you do with everyone, keep this principle in mind, influence by investing in relationships. Get things done in ways that improve your relationships and reputation, not at the expense of your relationships and reputation. In every influence attempt, strive to make the relationship better because of how you conducted yourself and were thoughtful of the other's point of view.
It' often challenging, especially with people who behave negatively, but remember this, damaged relationships damage careers. Abraham Lincoln was asked why he continued to speak kindly about his enemies, instead of destroying them. He said, do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends? When you influence others, don't make mistakes now that can haunt you later. Use a forward thinking influence plan. The more responsibility you have, the more dependent you are on the self-motivated efforts of others. As an executive, the job is too big to succeed through your own personal effort, no matter how strong your willpower.
So, don't influence with authority. Influence by investing in people.
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- The four disciplines of executive leadership
- Thinking strategically
- Creating shared purpose
- Inspiring confidence—even under pressure
- Motivating and communicating
- Establishing priorities and focus
- Leading change
- Developing yourself