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Develop Nine Essential Skills To Lead Without Authority

By Lisa Woods (1024 words)
Posted in Leadership & Teambuilding on July 8, 2012

There are (12) comments permalink

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No matter what position you hold in your company, you have the opportunity to be a leader, influence others, solve problems for those around you and become an expert resource for your organization or team.  If you can cultivate these leadership opportunities in your organization and in your life, your career will increase its potential to grow.  When you don’t take advantage of these opportunities, your career has a much greater likelihood of staying stagnant.  The ability to lead without authority is within your hands.  It is a skill you must develop on your own by implementing practices into your routine and testing your ability.  Leaders advance in their careers because they are leaders before being given the title.  It is a natural progression for them, not one based on years of service, nor based on results in their current management job.  Natural leaders cultivate people who respect and follow them; they get people to listen to them and act in support of them.  If you, no matter what your current title, can create this reputation for yourself throughout your organization, you will have an exciting future ahead of you. You will get noticed and you will get promoted.  Leadership is not a natural skill for everyone, you need to adapt yourself and become skilled in the following areas:

Develop Nine Essential Skills To Lead Without Authority

Skill One:  Accept that arrogance is unacceptable.

Maintain a confident and positive attitude humbled by facts and skill.


Skill Two: Be diplomatic. 

Communicate WITH others, not TO others.  That means listen to what others are saying.  Try to understand their perspective and determine if they understand you.  A great communicator speaks with someone to ensure his or her message is understood, and takes responsibility if the message is not clear.  You should be able to tweak your message to ensure this understanding.


Skill Three: Become a solution provider.

Focus on identifying what is truly problematic, not symptomatic.  If you take the time to work with others across job functions, create an environment that is inclusive and without blame that focuses on identifying problems and finding solutions, you will be seen as a leader as you champion those solutions.


Skill Four: Show your passion.

Be passionate about your ideas, and the ideas of others that you can champion for them.  Passion is a quality people are attracted to.  It creates positive energy that surrounds you and when you show that passion about others it makes them feel good about themselves.  People will gravitate toward you because of this.


Skill Five: Keep an open mind.

Be curious, open to ideas of others, their opinions, and finding the best solutions, even if they are not your own.


Skill Six: Know when to follow.

Sometimes leading means following someone else’s lead and having others follow you down that path by supporting their efforts.


Skill Seven: Be Aware.

Always be aware of the relationships you cultivate.  You should focus on creating allies, not competitors.  If you keep this in mind at all times your actions will naturally change.


Skill Eight: Help others to solve problems. 

If you are known as a calm, open minded, rational mediator, others will come to you for support and advice.  Make sure you are consistent, without favorites, and you can become the voice of reason in your organization.


Skill Nine: Develop your emotional intelligence. 

Remember, not everyone is a good communicator.  Sometimes you have to be the one to draw the ideas/thoughts out of others.  Although you might think this is a natural skill, it is something that you can develop if you ask yourself a set of questions when dealing with other people.  Some questions to ask yourself are:


  • What is the difference between what this person is saying and what they really mean to say? (ask questions to broaden your understanding)
  • What can I do to understand the underlying motivation for this person’s behavior, always assuming your initial interpretation is wrong. (keep an open mind and never judge any individual)
  • What can I do to help others without forcing my opinion on them.  (collaborate, share your views, and join your ideas with theirs by focusing on the task at hand, not the result you originally interpreted)


Practice taking on leadership roles in your organization. 

Volunteering to lead special projects or meetings are good ways to start incorporating these skills and being visible as a leader in your group.  You will make mistakes, the important thing is that you notice them…that is what practicing is all about.  When you use these skills, take some time at the end of your day to reflect on how well you did.  Define your opportunity to lead and ask yourself.


1)     Did I do a good job of listening?


2)     Did I show enthusiasm in my own behavior and about the ideas of others?


3)     Did I lead others to follow someone else’s lead?


4)     Did I capture the perspective of each individual on the team, or in the meeting?


5)     Have I/We identified what we are really trying to achieve?


6)     Did I create next steps and get agreement from all parties on follow-up?


There is always room to grow and improve.  The important thing is that you take the responsibility of leadership seriously.  If you do, others will believe in you…that is the first step to creating the magnet others will follow.


I hope this perspective is helpful to you in your day-to-day life.  Test out these concepts and share your results with us.  Others can benefit from your experiences.  Good luck!


{#/pub/images/lisa5.jpg}Written by Lisa Woods, President ManagingAmericans.com

Lisa is a successful entrepreneur, world-class marketing strategist, and dynamic business leader with more than 20 years experience leading, managing and driving growth. Throughout her career, Lisa has been influential in integration techniques, organizational and cultural overhauls, financial turnarounds and developing employees into exceptional leaders, results driven managers and passionate team contributors.


Do you have a question for Lisa?  Post it in our Executive Leadership Community, she will be happy to help: Ask an Expert


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Comments (12)

Yuvaraj Dubule posted on: July 9, 2012

Nice article... thank you very much

Collins Oladele posted on: July 9, 2012

Yap, leadership is not by saying, intimidation or bully; but by PRACTICE.

Ari posted on: July 9, 2012

Thanks for the article.

While I enjoyed reading it, it reminded me, on several occasions, of Stephen Covey's
"7 Habits of Highly Effective People."

With high regards to Lisa Woods works,I have a few comments / comparisons on this article.

Although the similarities are not obvious, one can not avoid thinking of 7HHEP when one reads this article. My quick analysis of near-similar habbits are given below for your views.

Skill # 2 : Be Diplomatic = Seek to First Understand.... Then to be Understood.
Skill # 3 : Become a Solution Provider = Think Win / Win
Skill # 5 : Keep an Open Mind = Put First Things First
Skill # 6 : Know When to Follow = Begin With the End in the Mind
Skill # 7 : Be Aware = Be Proactive
Skill # 8 : Help Others Solve Problems = Synergize
Skill # 9 : Develop Your Emotional Intelligence = Sharpen the Saw.

Is this substantially different from what Dr.Covey has said in his book 7HHEP.

Or Am I missing the key / subtle differences?



Lisa Woods posted on: July 9, 2012

Thank you for your question Ari. This article is a practical approach to leadership when you don't have a leadership title. I am afraid I do not see the correlation you are referencing as the concepts are quite different in title and in description. I am teaching about the skills one needs to develop in order to lead from all levels. We provide tools that anyone can implement in their daily routine to find opportunities to practice and build their skills so others will follow them. Please take a closer look through the details of our 9 skills, hopefully they will be valuable tools in your own professional development. There is a difference between effectiveness and leadership. Leadership influences and empowers others, whereas individual effectiveness is not determined by a following. Thanks again for your comment and good luck on your own professional development journey!

Dr. Moe Eze posted on: July 10, 2012

Good text. very helpful.

Ari posted on: July 10, 2012

Thanks for your clarifications,Lisa Woods. No doubt it is an excellent article that teaches skills to lead from all levels.

You said, "There is a difference between effectiveness and leadership. Leadership influences and empowers others, whereas individual effectiveness is not determined by a following."

While I agree with you on the first part of your statement, I think, only personal victory (individual effectiveness) can lead to public victory(leadership).

Individual effectiveness may not be determined by a following, but can lead to a following.

Vany Wells posted on: July 11, 2012

This is a familiar situation to me being in a support staff position in higher education. I learn how to build connection and trust in order to influence and solve problems.There many leaders out there without titles and authority. I would like to know more ................

David Frick posted on: July 13, 2012

Thanks for sharing this article. It resonates perfectly with a meeting I have next week

Kevin Feldman posted on: August 6, 2012

Thanks for the article, Dan! These are important skills for those that have the authority as well.

David Mullin posted on: August 13, 2012

There is more than one type or power; not just about the legitimate (i.e. position) type.

Frederick Sanabria posted on: September 20, 2012

Awesome article. Will show this to some of my colleagues in my unit. Sometimes even military officers need a reality check.

Jyoti Prakash Haldar posted on: September 22, 2012

Great points, thanks for sharing!

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