Lateral Leadership

One of my previous employers sent me to a class titled "Influencing Without Authority." Apparently the official term for this is lateral leadership.

When you have to manage across functions or teams and have no direct authority over the people you are trying to influence, this is lateral leadership. And with more companies having flatter structures and distributed workforces, this skill will become more vital. It's already used by all project and product managers.

As per Lauren Keller Johnson, in her article "Exerting Influence Without Authority" for the Harvard Management Update, there are four practices that will help:
  1. networking
  2. constructive persuasion and negotiations
  3. consultation
  4. coalition building
So if you build relationship with others, meet with them to get feedback and buy-in, and then have their support behind you, you will have an easier time managing laterally.

And Jay A. Conger, in his article "The Necessary Art of Persuasion" for the Harvard Business Review suggests four ways to more effectively persuade:
  1. establish credibility
  2. frame for common ground
  3. provide evidence
  4. connect emotionally
If you establish your consistent and reliable expertise and integrity, show how it's a win-win, use vivid examples or stories, and match your message to your audience's emotion and tone, you will be able to win them over.

Some of the above is intuitive and the rest structures what we may already do but need to improve. And since everyone needs to persuade someone and probably laterally manage someone else, this is useful information to have.

Which of the above have you had to use most? Which do you need to work on most?

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