Not the Boss? 3 Tips to Lead With Influence

By Jonlee Andrews
Clinical Professor of Marketing
Nestlé Faculty Fellow
Kelley School of Business
Picture yourself working on a team. You’re not the leader by title, but you’re responsible for getting a project done on time and in budget. You can’t do it without the cooperation of others, but you feel like you have little power.

In this common business situation, you must lead by influencing others. This is in contrast to the more traditional view of a leader whose focus is on amassing power. Leading with influence is much more powerful because people want to follow you.

Here are three tips on leading with influence:

Tip 1: Get to know people.


It’s important to understand what motivates the people around you. Get to know people—and not just your manager. Talk to your peers, teammates, staff, the maintenance crew—everyone in your work world. Ask them out for coffee or lunch. Do they have children? Grandchildren? What are their hobbies? Take a real interest in them as people with lives beyond the office.


Tip 2: Be genuine.


People will be more likely to follow you if you are seen as a positive, genuine person in your everyday actions. Getting to know people is a great start. The next step is acting as a servant leader. How can you enrich the lives of others as you work toward objectives together? Provide your team members with the support and confidence they need to meet their work and personal goals. This will strengthen your relationships—and your ability to influence.

Tip 3: Ask for and act on feedback.


Good leaders understand how they are perceived. Ask for feedback, and make changes. Yes, it can be hard to hear. But acting on feedback will demonstrate your commitment to success. Others will be more willing to work with you in the future if you take their feedback to heart.

Jonlee Andrews is a clinical professor of marketing, Nestlé Faculty Fellow, Director of the Center for Brand Leadership, and Director of the Consumer Marketing Academy at the Kelley School of Business Full-Time MBA Program.

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