Leading Without Authority


28 Mar
28Mar

In today’s agile business environment, leadership has become an increasingly flexible structure as projects are frequently tasked to individuals without formal titles or authority. The days of the solid-state organizational chart seem to be falling by the wayside and thus you may find yourself in a situation where you are tasked with leading a project or team without direct supervisory authority. These opportunities may leave you asking yourself how you will lead successfully in lieu of a title. Never fear, here are some real-world solutions to help you lead without authority.  

Build trust and credibility through relationships.

“Leadership is a choice you make rather than a place you sit. In other words, leadership comes from influence and not from your position. For this reason, even when you are not in front, you’re still leading those around you.” - John Maxwell, Leading from the Middle of the Pack 

Influence is the most powerful tool in a leader’s toolbox regardless of their title or position in an organization. The simplest way to build influence with the people you are leading is by building trust. Trust is formed from two foundational beliefs- the belief that you have their best interests at heart and the confidence that you have the ability and desire to help them. 

Taking time to listen empathetically, asking for ideas or advice, and taking a personal interest in people’s lives and thoughts are great ways to build relationships and foster trust. As your relationships grow, so, too, shall your influence. 

Demonstrating your credibility and excellence will help others trust in your ability to get the job done. Doing your research and communicating information clearly and effectively will help develop credibility in your leadership.  

Organize the plan. 

It is likely that those you are trying to lead have their own work and deliverables to worry about.  Having an organized plan with the most important details outlined is the easiest way to get buy in. Understanding that leading without authority requires selling those around you on why they should follow you will help you immensely. Just as “the confused mind says no” in a sales situation, so it goes when trying to lead through influence. An organized, simple to follow plan, clearly communicated, is a sure-fire way to get others on board with you and builds credibility to boot.  

Uncover a greater purpose. 

All people want to believe that their work has value and purpose in the world. Helping others uncover this purpose and connect to it is perhaps one of the most valuable skills for leading through influence. Great leaders capitalize on this skill and help others find deeper meaning in their work naturally. They have influence because others look to them for inspiration. Ultimately, great leaders lead from wherever they are in an organization because they understand that influence is far more important than control. The more you build your influence with those around you, the more capable a leader you will become. An empathetic ear, an organized and thorough plan and the ability to inspire others to connect to the purpose in their work are all you need to lead without authority.  

How can our Deep End coaches help you develop your leadership voice and presence? Schedule a free consultation today.