By Lori Staff
During the span of your career, you may only sometimes have a leadership title, yet still be asked to lead projects. “Leading without authority” is a concept that’s gaining traction, and was famously highlighted in Keith Ferrazzi’s New York Times bestseller of the same name.
"Individuals who can bring direction and guidance and unite employees to work as a team can be done at any company level."
Ferrazzi’s idea is to create freedom in an organization so people can positively lead and influence others without formal authority. Under this model, management’s traditional hierarchical structure flattens, allowing leaders to naturally emerge. A leadership culture without traditional authority can break down silos and other rigid corporate defensive impulses, creating diversity and innovation. One person’s passion and enthusiasm can inspire others to join an initiative or project without being directed.
Here are five strategies for leading without authority:
At Ideas Collide, we have a program called Leading Forward. Six individuals are chosen annually for a five-month intensive training where they learn and practice techniques to become better leaders. All employees who are interested can apply to the program. As a recent program graduate myself, I can’t wait to take these new skills into my workday.
"And even though I don’t carry a leadership title, I can use my skills to strengthen the team and bring us together to accomplish our goals."
Leading without authority can truly change traditional workplace hierarchies for the better. In today’s fast-paced business environment, such old structures are now often seen as growth impediments. At the same time, self-service technologies such as social media, mobility, and the cloud encourage more collaborative activities. In this new environment, leadership becomes increasingly fluid, a project or task successfully led by individuals without formal titles or specific authority. People can rise to the challenge, be confident they have what’s needed, and be empowered to lead out.
We all have varied skills, many of which remain dormant because they’re just not utilized. And by leading without authority, our respective talents can solve problems and lead others toward solutions.
Work programs or financial limitations shouldn’t stop you from reaching your full potential and learning more about leading without authority. Along with diving into Ferrazzi’s bestseller, continue your learning with these great reads: