Leading when you don’t have the direct status or power to lead

Being an influencer sounds cool but in a big organisation its easy to get lost and feel like you’re a nobody.

To thrive you will need to adopt a customer focus centred on relationships, build trust and credibility through small wins, practice patience and perseverance

I work in a role where I need to lead change, coach people in agile testing strategies and get agreement from very senior manager across business and technology teams. I have no direct power, no direct reports yet I’ve been successful by focussing on small wins, persistence and always being visible.  Its definitely tricky and not always good for the ego (especially when I’m used to running large team when that explicit power in just therein the role.)  I think its made me a better advocate for change though because I always need to be humble and demonstrate that I’ve heard what my stakeholders want, not just put my opinion over the top.  Its a style I hope to use whether I’m in an influencing role or manager role in future.

If you are in an influencer role, then this learning note is for you!  It will provide you with some great tips for helping you overcome the power dynamic and build indirect power through your relationships.

Key Learning Points

  • Accept that you don’t have direct power
  • Understand that your style will have to change to adapt to this
  • Relationships are now a focus
  • Be easy to deal with
  • Focus on being a positive and fun force for driving change
  • Build credibility
  • Patience is the key, along with being a consistent presence and contributor
  • Focus on goals not expectations
  • Ask, don’t tell

Be visible, approachable and easy to work with.

 

Prompts

Use the prompts to help ask great questions and find out more information when meeting with your team:

  • What relationships are key to getting decisions made?
  • Who are my key influencers?
  • What type of communication works best with my stakeholders?
  • Who are the best influencers in the organisation? What works for them? Can I pick up their style ?
  • What areas do I need to change in my style?
  • How quickly can I work on my projects when it is just me?
  • What will build credibility the easiest?
  • What is the the path of least resistance?
  • What small wins can I get quickly that will help build my credibility?
  • Who can best mentor and advise me?
  • What assumptions do I have?  How can I test these?
  • What can help me be more patient?

 

Where can you be more patient? What will you do today to create great relationships?

I’d love to hear from you, what will you do today to create great relationships? 

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Leading when you have no idea what is going on (yet!)

Are you a new line manager and don’t quite get what your team is doing all day?

If yes, then this learning note is for you!  It will provide you with some great tips for helping you overcome imposter syndrome and the sheer panic of managing technical people when you’re not really sure you’ll understand what they do.

Key Learning Points

  • adopt a curious mind
  • accept even through you’re a boss you’re a beginning again
  • enquire
  • be humble
  • don’t tell
  • make of  point of speaking to everyone individually
  • don’t put too much pressure on yourself to ‘get it’ straight away
  • take advice from peers
  • listen

Be open to being a learner who is also leading.

Prompts
Use the prompts to help ask great questions and find out more information when meeting with your team:

  • what is your greatest challenge getting your everyday job done?
  • what skills make someone good in this role?
  • why do you like your role?
  • what would make your role easier?
  • what do you need form your boss?
  • what do you not need?
  • what resources could I read/watch/listen to learn more?
  • is there a meet up group that you go to – could I come along?
  • if you do read articles they send you, make sure to take notes on any questions you have and then go and speak with your staff members and get them to help you understand further – this will make them feel valued, heard, supported and empathised with
  • if you are working with introverted people, make sure this is always 1:1 and in a meeting room or desk (if this is reasonably private) if possible to help them feel like they are in a safe space
  • thank your team for their time but don’t make a too much of a big deal out of it

What will you do today to learn what your team does?
I’d love to hear from you, What will you do today to learn what your team does?

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Leading your team to feel super safe to super fail a lot

Is your team leading the way?

Is your team disrupting or being disrupted?

If yes, then this learning note is for you!  It will provide you with some great tips for inspiring your team to take more risks, disrupt more, be open to failure and learning?

Key Learning Points

  • nurture talent
  • nurture ideas and change
  • create safety nets
  • encourage
  • focus on learning and achievement
  • create a sense of purpose
  • let go of old stories of punishment
  • create new stories of how failure will be responded to

Fail, fail, fail and then learn!

Failure is the only option when first trying to create something truly awesome!

Learning Prompts

Ask yourself (and your team):

  • What would you like to brainstorm?
  • What other ideas do you have?
  • What does experience teach your about this change / new idea?
  • What does your inner wisdom say about it?
  • How you can unlock that learning?
  • What story are you telling that is holding your team back?
  • What could a new story look like?
  • What needs to change to make this story a reality?
  • What words would you like to use less of to describe your team? (i.e.: ‘dead wood’, ‘cut the fat’, ‘idiots’, ‘lazy’, etc)
  • What words could use more of? (i.e.: ‘untapped talent’, ‘hidden gems’, ‘stars in the making’, ‘genius’, ‘inspired’, ‘open’, ‘fun’, ‘energised’)
  • What would you like to be known for as a team?
  • What behaviours do you want to be known for?

What will you do today to make failure an option?
I’d love to hear from you, how do you encourage your team to take risks and deal with failure positively?

Let me know by commenting here. I love hearing your ideas and read every comment.

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