Influence without Authority – how to ensure co-operation for a successful project delivery


The Holy Grail for project managers is trying to get all the work done on time and within budget. However project managers encounter many challenges in the pursuit of successful completion of these objectives. Among the challenges is the strong possibility of working with stakeholders who you may have no formal authority over, but the project success hinges on their cooperation with you. In any attempt to influence key stakeholders, you need four key influencing skills:
1. Assume all are potential allies. You need to believe that the uncooperative will cooperate. If you think negative thoughts about your target, even if you don’t verbalize it, the target will sense these negative thoughts and will then shut down and close off to any influence attempts. Remember you need to suspend judgement and ask questions that do not assume negative motives.

2. Diagnose the world of the other person. If you are unclear about what matters to an important person or group, are puzzled by their resistance and assuming the worst about their motives, you may need to analyse their world carefully. Gather intelligence on people’s hot buttons, taboos and values in order to identify hooks to get on their wavelength.

3. Identify relevant currencies – in other words, what matters to them. One of the best ways to learn about a person’s currencies is to listen closely to their language. When you are tuned in, you will be amazed at how often and how repetitively people broadcast their currencies by their choice of metaphors or by the questions they ask.

4. Understand your individual workstyles. All people have a certain workstyle – a way of solving problems, dealing with others and doing their jobs. You need to understand your workstyle as well as theirs and adapt your workstyle to match theirs to increase your influence.

Using these influencing skills will help you to navigate the matrix environment, build relationships with key stakeholders and successfully achieve your objectives.
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Author: Norma Lynch, Head of Training, Aspira.

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