How to Be An Influential Leader Without Formal Authority

Inevitably, as a working professional, you will find yourself in the classic situation of needing to lead and influence others over whom you have no actual direct authority. As a first-time leader, or even an experienced one, this could be a tough challenge. These people do not report to you, you do not approve their time cards and how they manage their priorities and you certainly do not write their annual reviews. So how does one lead others who do not report to him or her?


This is where personal influence comes into effect. What is even stronger than positional authority, which is formal management, is using personal influence skillsets to lead others toward success. This is certainly much easier said than done, so here are a few practical ways to build your influence muscles.

1️⃣ Get to know your team – Find out more about those with whom you work, on a personal level. Ask about family, weekend and vacation plans, their dog’s vet visit. Building personal relationships solidifies healthy working relationships.

2️⃣ Help your team with their needs – Do not wait for when you need something to show up at your neighbor’s desk. Go by to say hello and ask how you can help. Demonstrate servitude, not for selfish reasons, but because this is what leaders do.

3️⃣ Be collaborative and share ideas – In team settings, do not be the prescriptive know-it-all, but allow for healthy team collaboration. The sharing of ideas helps move the ball forward, generate camaraderie as a team and grow your influence and reputation as an integrator of thoughts.

Your Next Steps

As you prepare to lead your next team, consider the above tips for growing your influence. Leadership is a lifelong endeavor. Keep working this muscle group!

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Author: Rodney