Develop Nine Essential Skills To Lead Without Authority

Do you seek out opportunities to practice your leadership skills?

No matter what position you hold in your company, you have the opportunity to be a leader, influence others, solve problems for those around you and become an expert resource for your organization or team.  If you can cultivate these leadership opportunities in your organization and in your life, your career will increase its potential to grow.  When you don’t take advantage of these opportunities, your career has a much greater likelihood of staying stagnant.  The ability to lead without authority is within your hands.  It is a skill you must develop on your own by implementing practices into your routine and testing your ability.  Leaders advance in their careers because they are leaders before being given the title.  It is a natural progression for them, not one based on years of service, nor based on results in their current management job.  Natural leaders cultivate people who respect and follow them; they get people to listen to them and act in support of them.  If you, no matter what your current title, can create this reputation for yourself throughout your organization, you will have an exciting future ahead of you. You will get noticed and you will get promoted.  Leadership is not a natural skill for everyone, you need to adapt yourself and become skilled in the following areas:

Develop Nine Essential Skills To Lead Without Authority

Skill One:  Accept that arrogance is unacceptable.

Maintain a confident and positive attitude humbled by facts and skill.

Skill Two: Be diplomatic.

Communicate WITH others, not TO others.  That means listen to what others are saying.  Try to understand their perspective and determine if they understand you.  A great communicator speaks with someone to ensure his or her message is understood, and takes responsibility if the message is not clear.  You should be able to tweak your message to ensure this understanding.

Skill Three: Become a solution provider.

Focus on identifying what is truly problematic, not symptomatic.  If you take the time to work with others across job functions, create an environment that is inclusive and without blame that focuses on identifying problems and finding solutions, you will be seen as a leader as you champion those solutions.

Skill Four: Show your passion.

Be passionate about your ideas, and the ideas of others that you can champion for them.  Passion is a quality people are attracted to.  It creates positive energy that surrounds you and when you show that passion about others it makes them feel good about themselves.  People will gravitate toward you because of this.

Skill Five: Keep an open mind.

Be curious, open to ideas of others, their opinions, and finding the best solutions, even if they are not your own.

Skill Six: Know when to follow.

Sometimes leading means following someone else’s lead and having others follow you down that path by supporting their efforts.

Skill Seven: Be Aware.

Always be aware of the relationships you cultivate.  You should focus on creating allies, not competitors.  If you keep this in mind at all times your actions will naturally change.

Skill Eight: Help others to solve problems.

If you are known as a calm, open minded, rational mediator, others will come to you for support and advice.  Make sure you are consistent, without favorites, and you can become the voice of reason in your organization.

Skill Nine: Develop your emotional intelligence.

Remember, not everyone is a good communicator.  Sometimes you have to be the one to draw the ideas/thoughts out of others.  Although you might think this is a natural skill, it is something that you can develop if you ask yourself a set of questions when dealing with other people.  Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • What is the difference between what this person is saying and what they really mean to say? (ask questions to broaden your understanding)
  • What can I do to understand the underlying motivation for this person’s behavior, always assuming your initial interpretation is wrong. (keep an open mind and never judge any individual)
  • What can I do to help others without forcing my opinion on them.  (collaborate, share your views, and join your ideas with theirs by focusing on the task at hand, not the result you originally interpreted)

Practice taking on leadership roles in your organization. 

Volunteering to lead special projects or meetings are good ways to start incorporating these skills and being visible as a leader in your group.  You will make mistakes, the important thing is that you notice them…that is what practicing is all about.  When you use these skills, take some time at the end of your day to reflect on how well you did.  Define your opportunity to lead and ask yourself.

1)     Did I do a good job of listening?

2)     Did I show enthusiasm in my own behavior and about the ideas of others?

3)     Did I lead others to follow someone else’s lead?

4)     Did I capture the perspective of each individual on the team, or in the meeting?

5)     Have I/We identified what we are really trying to achieve?

6)     Did I create next steps and get agreement from all parties on follow-up?

There is always room to grow and improve.  The important thing is that you take the responsibility of leadership seriously.  If you do, others will believe in you…that is the first step to creating the magnet others will follow.


Written by Lisa Woods, President Lisa Woods Consulting & Founder of

Lisa is a dynamic business leader & author located in Western New York with more than 20 years experience leading, managing and driving growth in the corporate world. Today she partners with business leaders to understand their vision, identify internal and external roadblocks, define a practical strategic path forward and guide a successful transformation. This work includes strategy definition & goal setting, organizational design, facilitating team buy-in, establishing visual metrics, internal and external research studies, business feasibility assessments, and investor insight into organizational strength, weakness & strategic opportunity. She helps business leaders drive growth & increase profits.

Strategic Consulting ǀ Management Consulting: Strategy Realized

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