How many times have you needed someone to do something for you, but they report to someone else? Or your manager asked you to follow up with something they were waiting on, and you were met with unspoken resistance because of your lack of authority?
Although it’s possible to get results from people without having authority over them, it can be challenging. Authority doesn’t just give you power; it gives you legitimacy. People are more likely to take direction from someone who holds a title or position of authority, and without it, it can be hard to get people to take direction seriously or even listen to your ideas. Additionally, you can’t enforce any decisions or instructions you give when you don’t have authority. Instead, we rely on others’ goodwill and trust to get them to do what we need. It’s not impossible, but it does require more work than most people realize.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”a88FM” via=”yes” ]Here are three keys to getting results without authority:[/ctt]
- Establish Trust: Establishing a trusting relationship with the person you’re trying to get results from is absolutely essential. Without trust, it won’t matter how good or persuasive your ideas are; they won’t take you seriously. If you want results, you need to make the other person feel like they can trust you, and you need to be trustworthy.
I’ve written about trust many times, and although you may be the type to trust others automatically or on instinct, not everyone is the same. Trust isn’t given for about half the population and instead needs to be earned.
If you assume you have trust with your colleague because you trust them, you are naïve, sadly. Read here for more information about trust and what you need to do.
- Explain why. What is the common purpose, or why does this task matter? If people understand why something needs to be done, they are more committed to helping you get it done as they see how they fit into the equation.
If you ask me to take minutes for you at next week’s meeting, my initial reaction might be, “No. I hate taking minutes.” However, if you explain why you need me to take minutes for you, “Rhonda, I need to be at my daughter’s parent-teacher meeting next week while the Board meeting is happening. Can you please do the minutes this week? Otherwise, we will have to postpone the meeting,” I’m more inclined to see the importance of why you are asking me to do something you don’t have the authority to task me with.
I still may hate taking minutes, but I understand why it makes sense for you to ask me to do that as I understand the consequence of having to reschedule a Board meeting only a week away. You can’t just tell them to do it because you said so; you need to present a persuasive argument for why the task must be done.
- Ask, don’t tell. It would be best if you were easy to work with, friendly, and self-aware. While that sounds simple enough, it means you are asking people to do things when you don’t have authority instead of telling them what you want done. If you tell them, their initial reaction will be to resist your request, as you don’t have the authority to tell them what to do.
If we have a good relationship (trust), and I understand why the task is being delegated to me, I am more inclined to help you out. However, how you present that request is still a big factor in the results you get if you don’t have authority.
Ask people, explain the why, and be nice, professional, and understanding. Maya Angelou said, “People will never forget how you made them feel.” If you make them feel valued and valuable, they are way more likely to comply with your request. They won’t do what you want if you make them feel demeaned and dumped on. And since you don’t have authority, you can’t make them do it either.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”5VHqJ” via=”yes” ]If you make them feel valued and valuable, they are way more likely to comply with your request. They won’t do what you want if you make them feel demeaned and dumped on.[/ctt]
Getting results without authority isn’t manipulation. It is understanding that how we work with others and how we ask them matters significantly. With the right approach, you can get the results you’re looking for.