Influencing Outcomes Without Authority

Your ability to influence others — whether upward, downward, laterally, or within a team — always depends on both the quality of your relationships with the people you influence, and on your perception and their perception of your personal power. This program shows you the techniques for making things happen not by using formal organizational power, but by using informal, personal power.

In project-oriented organizations, the project management role lies outside the authority hierarchy. Project managers must accomplish their objectives without invoking the authority that organizational managers seem to use so effectively. They must negotiate for resources, budget, and schedule, all without organizational authority. And once the project is underway, they must secure the cooperation of others, including project team members, without authority. How is this even possible?

Influencing Outcomes Without Authority

A Noble Fir old growth forest on Larch Mountain in Oregon. Noble fir is popular for Christmas trees. Scientists have only recently begun to understand how forests work. Because each tree influences, and is influenced by, other plants, forests are highly interconnected systems.

Success depends on recognizing that managing a project requires a series of negotiations. But it is also essential to realize that one need not execute all negotiations personally. At times, one can stand aside, and permit, facilitate, or encourage negotiations undertaken by others. These methods, taken together, are perhaps best described as influence. And by their nature, these methods require a high level of sophistication in organizational politics.

Effective use of influence entails creating or participating in a sequence of exchanges. Some are formally acknowledged; some are so quickly proposed and accepted that they are hardly noticed as exchanges. In any case the exchange partners rely on the health of their relationship as the foundation of their deals. They know each other, trust each other, and respect each other's competence.

This program gives attendees the tools and concepts they need to use influence in this way. It deals with issues such as:

  • How can I become more influential?
  • When someone seeks a favor from me, how can I ask for something in exchange without triggering a confrontation?
  • What can I do when someone I want to influence rejects my attempts?
  • How can I influence someone with more organizational authority than I have?
  • How can I influence someone who is a favorite of a powerful person, and who has rejected my previous attempts?

This program is available as a keynote, workshop, seminar, breakout, or clinic. For the shorter formats, coverage of the outline below is selective.

Learning objectives

This program helps people who make decisions or who want or need to influence others as they make decisions. As it turns out, that's just about everyone in the knowledge-oriented workplace. Participants learn:

  • What is influence? What is politics?
  • The ethics of influence: how influence differs from manipulation
  • The connections between influence, authority, and power
  • How to influence others one-on-one
  • How to influence groups
  • Confusing winning with achieving the objective
  • The seduction of dominance
  • How to identify influencers
  • How to build and maintain alliances
  • Techniques for saying no

Participants learn to appreciate the true challenges of dealing with cognitive biases. Most important, they learn strategies and tactics for limiting their effects, or, having discovered that a cognitive bias might be playing a role, how to intervene to enhance decision quality.

Program structure and content

We learn through presentation, discussion, exercises, simulations, and post-program activities. We can tailor a program for you that addresses your specific challenges, or we can deliver a tried-and-true format that has worked well for other clients. Participants usually favor a mix of presentation, discussion, and focused exercises.

Based on attendee interest, topics will include, for example:

  • Influence as change: a model of change
  • The ethics of influence
  • Determining your preferred influencing style
  • Choosing an influencing style
  • Relationships and alliances
  • Your power inventory
  • Exchange and reciprocity
  • Tools of persuasion: communication, credibility, logic, and emotion
  • When an offer of an exchange can seem like a threat
  • The dynamics of impasses
  • How people lose influence
  • Defending yourself against unethical influence

Whether you're a veteran influencer, or a relative newcomer to influence as a workplace practice, this program is a real eye-opener.

Learning model

When we learn most new skills, we intend to apply them in situations with low emotional content. But knowledge about how people work together is most needed in highly charged situations. That's why we use a learning model that goes beyond presentation and discussion — it includes in the mix simulation, role-play, metaphorical problems, and group processing. This gives participants the resources they need to make new, more constructive choices even in tense situations. And it's a lot more fun for everybody.

Target audience

Decision makers at all levels, including managers of global operations, sponsors of global projects, managers, business analysts, team leads, project managers, and team members.

Program duration

Available formats range from 50 minutes to one full day. The longer formats allow for more coverage or more material, more experiential content and deeper understanding of issues specific to audience experience.

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