Leadership without Authority

Here is a question for you – how good are you at influencing others (and getting things done through others), when you are not in a position of authority, and you need to influence, rather than give direction …??? 

If you answered this question with ‘really good’, great, and good for you. Most people struggle with this element of being a leader (a leader without authority). 

See, if you are good at doing leadership without authority, by default, you are a great influencer … 

And, leadership without authority is about being an informal, not a formal leader, it is about changing hearts and minds without a job title and a role that means that others are somewhat obliged to ‘comply’ (not the right word, though you get my drift) with your requests. 

Leadership without authority is about 3 things (in general terms), including empathy, positivity and storytelling. Here is an overview of those three elements of influence: 

1. Leadership without Authority – INFLUENCE THROUGH EMPATHY 

When it comes to empathy, the most important skill set to learn is how to be empathetic, and how to really understand where the other person is coming from. 

Try to put yourself in their shoes, understand their perceptions of the situation, and really grasp that lens they are looking at the circumstance through. 

The reason that empathy is so important as part of the influence process, is that it allows you to tailor you message to what is real for the listener. 

Being empathetic, by its very nature, also helps you to become a better listener, too, as you can’t be empathetic without listening carefully … and caringly … 

2. Leadership without Authority – INFLUENCE THROUGH POSITIVITY 

And, I know what you are thinking, I can pick it up through the inter-web, as you are reading this … ‘Anton, don’t tell me about positive thinking’. Sorry, here it comes … 

Put simply, the more positive you are when you are trying to influence someone, the more success you are going to have, period. If you turn up to an influencing discussion in the wrong frame of mind, your chances of success will be significantly reduced, then if you show up positively, and in the right state. 

Your emotional state is perhaps the most important thing to consider, in life, not just in your communication, as it will allow you to put a positive perspective on the situation, and your energy is contagious. The more positive you are, the more positive the person you are talking to will be. Oh, and smile. That helps, too!!! 

3. Leadership without Authority – INFLUENCE THROUGH STORY TELLING 

Never, ever underestimate the power of a story, when it comes to influencing others! 

Storytelling, done well, can have such an influential effect on other people, as it locks them into an emotional experience, and it connects them to your experience, or the experience of others. 

A good storyteller will take the listener on a journey, that helps them to not only listen to the story; they will feel the story, and connect to it, and it will resonate with them, making it easier for you to convey your message. 

Remember that, as you tell stories, you need a starting point, an end point, the ‘stuff in the middle’, and most importantly, the key message. Re-iterate the key message as many times as is necessary to make your point, without laboring it. And, watch your influencing skills improve!!! 


Anton Guinea is the safety leadership expert. His journey is unique, having survived a workplace incident which he transformed from a cautionary story into powerful, psychology-based safety programs that has moved the hearts and minds of organisations globally. 
For 15 years, Anton has worked with over 150+ businesses and their leaders, to help make safety safe; safe to talk about, to engage in, and to report about. Working in the space of where Safety meets Leadership, Anton founded The Guinea Group as the safety support network to help businesses to LEADsafe365.
Get in touch with Anton today.

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