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Summary of “Influence without Authority

Summary of “Influence without Authority,” Presented by Joseph Lynn, Senior VP IT Relationship Management at Citigroup.

First – the topic itself of Influence without Authority is something we can all relate to. As Joe puts it, many of us are accountable for getting results, but don’t really have the direct authority for the people to help. If the people you need aren’t on board, what do you?

Why is there a focus on Influence Without Authority? Flatter structures, globalization, cross-functional teams and dotted line reported means those people that can influence people without direct authority is a key indicator of success for individuals.

Joe credits the book, “Influencing Without Authority” by Cohen and Bradford for much of his presentation. There is a specific model that Cohen and Bradford give. Here’s the first few steps:

  1. You start, by knowing that every person is a potential ally. The greatest challenge is influencing someone is not cooperative. But a good start is to see whether you have overlapping interests. If you start by assuming the person is an adversary, then you’ll have a self-fulfilling prophecy. So stay positive!
  2. Clarify your Goals and Priorities. Make sure you know the difference between primary and secondary priorities, and which priorities you can trade off. Plus Joe suggests that you really need to know the difference between a short term win and a long term priority.   Focus on the relationships. Joe points out that people change jobs all the time, so look long term for the relationships if you can. Be effective, Joe suggests, not just right.
  3. Diagnose Your Ally’s world. There are two forces that explain behavior: Personality and everything else. What does your ally care about? What is their organizational situation and forces, or their day- to-day experience? Understanding their situation will help you avoid thinking of them as the adversary.
  4. What is valuable to your potential ally? The phrase used by Cohen and Bradford is Relevant Currencies. What’s valuable to your ally? Look for something you can offer, such as: The greater good, resources, recognition, support, even gratitude! Avoid the “Not my job” attitude and you’ll start to see adversaries become allys.
  5. Now we get to the good part, according to Joe, which is Dealing with Relationships. Determine first what the nature of your relationship and then determine their communication style for an exchange. Do they want a direct exchange, such as, “you do this for me, I’ll do this for you.” Or a more subtle exchange.
  6. Once you determine their favored style, then make them an offer for an exchange. Zero in on the benefits, just like you would if selling.   Your approach and results will be shaped by the value of what you have compared to what you are asking for. Joe warns that you should follow the culture and organizational protocol when working through channels for these types of relationship offers.

That’s the summary for the first half of the presentation. The key shift for me when viewing his presentation is the shift towards understanding what your goals are, who needs to help and then identifying their world and learning how to make them an ally. We all know people who have influence way beyond their title.

In Joe’s second half of the presentation, he explains what your focus should be on for maintaining these relationships, the barriers to influence and organizational structure, and how to create influence in different types of organizational structures.

Be sure to read next week’s tip for the second half!

Want to see Joe’s Presentation ?: Go here:

Updated: May 19, 2015 — 3:52 pm

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