There are many cases where you need to apply leadership without authority. You come to a new job or start a new project. You get into a group of peers. On a weekend volunteer project. The problems are always the same. How to win disposition of a person or even a group.
Truth is the solution is simple. You don’t need to apply any complicated tricks or analyze personalities.
What we are going to discuss today applies to any situation when you need to lead without authority.
There is one important thing to keep in mind.
At work, you rarely start with no authority at all. Your position and the job title give you some amount of power by default. But it works strictly on the areas of your expertise.
So, if you are a project manager assigned to a software development project you are an authority in project management. Don’t try to take up leadership over the group of developers at once. Start from the areas you are familiar with.
So, here are five tactics you should always apply.
1. Never Ignore the Power of Handshakes
Studies show that physical contact like a handshake helps build a connection with a person. Moreover, it makes them happy on a biological level. We trust and like people with a firm handshake.
“We found that it not only increases the positive effect toward a favorable interaction, but it also diminishes the impact of a negative impression.” – Dr. Sanda Dolcos
So, the trick is simple.
In the morning make a quick round around the office and shake a hand with your team members.
But there is a catch.
It might be frustrating if you do this midday when everyone is busy. It works better in the morning before people get to the first pressing task. If you are coming late, keep it to the moment when you can talk personally. Don’t ignore the power of the first meeting. Welcome a person and shake his hand even midday.
What about the girls?
Yeah, they don’t really like handshakes. High five works like a charm. Just slap your palms gently and you will see a genuine smile on her face.
It works even better combined with the second tactic.
2. Learn and Use Their Names
There is no other such thing people love to hear as their names.
It is another proven fact.
“Using a person’s name is crucial, especially when meeting those we don’t see very often. Respect and acceptance stem from simple acts such as remembering a person’s name and using it whenever appropriate.”
– Dale Carnegie
Do learn the names of your team members as soon as possible. And learn to spell it correctly.
Now, whenever appropriate use the peoples’ names. Especially in the morning combined with a handshake.
In an office, it also works great when you know the name of a person you did not meet before.
“You are John? I’m Dmitriy, glad to meet you at last.” And you almost have just won a person.
3. Apply Strategic Small Talks
“Hi, Corwin!” Dmitriy said entering the elevator. “Hi Dmitriy, how was your weekend?” Corwin replied trying to start a usual small talk. “Oh, good. It was nice. And how about you?” “Yeah, it was good.” Said Corwin without finding what else to say. They both waited in uncomfortable silence.
That’s how a bad small talk looks like. It dies without even starting.
How do you gain valuable leverage of motivation and leadership from a routine courtesy?
Never answer with a close-ended or simple sentence. It should never be an “OK,” “It was good” or something similar. You need to tell a short and exciting story. Share a bit of your personal and out of the office life. Even if you spent weekends with family at home there should be something interesting to tell about.
The goal is to encourage your interlocutor to tell the similar story beyond a mundane “OK.” And do listen carefully if he or she speaks. Because it will be something, the person wants to share. It is important.
If you heard something that did not end in that story, remember it. Next time you will be able to show that you listened to the person and you care. Just ask about it again later.
For example, he told you about his dog and training they are taking. Ask about the progress in a week.
I promise you, next time you will hear even more precious information. You will get more opportunities to build up authority and leadership with that person.
4. Find One Thing to Love
You heard this, right? People are the greatest asset of a company. A true leader must genuinely love and value people.
How on Earth can you genuinely value and love someone you barely know? Or someone who has not done anything valuable yet?
There is a trick.
Don’t try to like the whole person at once. Find at least one trait you deem valuable.
A new team member is easy to communicate? Does she have a right attitude? Good, that will work. Do you believe that it is a valuable feature for this role? Then it would be easy for you to tell that to her frankly, wouldn’t it?
In a week you may notice that she is hardworking. If this trait is higher in your system of values – nice, you can build on that. You can now value your team member for hard work.
You got the point. Start small and discover new aspects of a person that you can love and value.
By the way, sometimes you will not find anything aligned with your system of professional values. It is a sign that working with such person will be difficult. It may break synergy in the team.
5. Encourage People and Say Thank You
I’m not talking about some general encouragement. Again it is about a display of faith, recognition, and gratitude on a daily basis.
“How do you know if someone needs encouragement? If they are breathing!” – S. Truett Cathy
Encouragement and recognition should not limit to the cases when team members work beyond the call of duty.
You can build leadership without authority by merely showing belief in their professionalism. You can establish authority by saying Thank You for explaining technical aspects in simple words. You can recognize a work without defects or proactive behaviors.
Whenever you need to build leadership without authority start with simple and basic tactics. It is a ground level. The more profound you make it, the easier it will be to push your authority and influence at a higher level.
Do you know other simple techniques that you can apply as a leader? Share your experience in comments below.