7 Strategies for Influencing Without Authority

Most of us believe we need to be a “VP,” a “Manager,” an “Assistant Manager,” etc., in order to influence others. Surprisingly, a title alone doesn’t necessarily elicit compliance. Here are some of the best tactics for achieving sincere support—even when you don’t have a title before your name.

1. Build strong relationships. You needn’t be friends with everyone, but you must have positive interactions with everyone. You want people to see you as their ally, and vice versa. The better relationships you have across your organization, the less you’ll have to beg others to follow your lead.

2. Support co-workers whenever you can. If you see a colleague struggling to meet a deadline or master a new software program, offer to help. That person will be happy to reciprocate when you come to them for their help.  

3. Stay on top of organizational initiatives. Be aware of your organization’s short- and long-term goals and projects, its financial ups and downs, changes in personnel, etc. Being aware of all this will allow you to make informed decisions that will be respected by peers and higher-ups, which in turn, will give you greater inherent authority. 

4. Show gratitude. Express appreciation to everyone who helps out. Do this publicly—in a staff meeting or an all-department email. (And make sure the boss knows who to thank, too.) If you’re able to, bring people into a fun and challenging new assignment.

5. Listen attentively. If you want others to change their behavior or adopt an idea of yours, listen to their input and objections. Be prepared to explain how you might incorporate their suggestions or overcome their reservations.

6. Highlight benefits. Let others know “what’s in it for them.” How will your request benefit them, their department, and/or their clients? Perhaps what you’re asking will help them to learn a new skill, make new connections or vary their routine.

7. Be honest. If you need help with a less-than-exciting project, don’t pretend otherwise. Explain that while you know this particular task may be dull, it will help you/your department/your organization. Hearing that, most people will happily pitch in.