University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee School of Continuing Education
Project Management Monthly: January 2013: Tips and Tricks
How Can You Influence Without Authority?

The days of working in a hierarchical, direct reporting system are changing. Virtual teams, ‘flatter’ organizations, cutbacks and technology mean people must work together across reporting lines. And while there are many benefits to working in such matrices, there are also challenges. One of the biggest is the ability to influence without authority. How can you get the support and resources needed to successfully achieve organizational goals without being in a position to simply ‘give the order’?

Project Managers face this situation daily. Learning and applying this coveted soft skill isn’t always easy, but it can make project success more likely...and life for a project manager less stressful.

The Influence Model (developed by authors Cohen and Bradford) is based on the law of reciprocity and includes six steps:

  • Assume all are potential allies – don’t write anyone off
  • Clarify your goals and priorities – define why you are trying to influence this person and what exactly you need from them
  • Diagnose the world of the other person – understand this person’s perspective and how they are judged and rewarded
  • Identify relevant “currencies”; theirs, and yours – identify what your potential ally truly values
  • Deal with relationships – take time to get to know this person
  • Influence through give and take – knowing what your ally wants or needs, and determining what you have to offer in return, you can now make “the exchange”.
Learn more about Influencing Without Authority in an in–depth course this February at the UWM School of Continuing Education!


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