There are two forms of influence in the world:
- Influence by authority
- Influence without authority
When a ‘boss’ (a manager or someone with a big title) attempts to influence change or drive action using only their authority, it is rarely successful in the short term, and never in the long term. “Because, I told you so” may work a few times on a kindergartner, but doesn’t inspire confidence or long-term results in the business world.
“You do not lead by hitting people over the head — that’s assault, not leadership.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
Instead, the best leaders (whether or not they have authority) learn how to use non-authoritarian skills to influence others. The worst managers (and people with big titles) just boss people around.
Some of the Amazon Leadership Principles inform the skills required to be great at influencing without authority. For example:
- A leader who learns to Dive Deep and stays connected to the underlying data or technical details of a problem can propose a solution based on facts. Facts trump opinions.
- People and groups respond better to leaders who listen attentively, speak candidly, and treat others respectfully. When a leader doesn’t do these things or is afraid of ‘being proven wrong’, people will lose trust in them and thus their influence will diminish.
- Bold ideas that are clearly articulated motivate people. Leaders who are good at thinking big can use those skills to influence others to follow their lead.
In thinking about this tip, I found this blog post on the Internet. It’s worth a read for more tips on how to influence without authority: https://coachingforleaders.com/influence-without-authority/