top of page

Influencing Without Authority: Having an Impact When You Aren’t In a Position of Leadership

Being an influential member of your team has little to do with your actual job title or rank. While it’s true that people in leadership positions may naturally have more influence over decisions and their direct reports, it’s possible to be equally as influential even if you're not the one in charge. This is because influence can be developed by establishing yourself as a person with authority, and a leadership role within your organization isn’t the only way to gain authority.

Authority can be developed through three main sources: Relationships, Expertise, and Organizational Understanding.


Having good relationships with coworkers helps you gain respect and trust. People are more inclined to trust you and follow your lead if they feel you're a genuine person who keeps everyone's best interest in mind. Additionally, when coworkers feel as though you’ve supported them and invested in their ideas and efforts, they’re more likely to reciprocate and support your ideas and efforts.

Need to improve your working relationships? Start by developing your own emotional intelligence. This can be done by working on your self-awareness, self-management, and social awareness. Additionally, you can improve working relationships by investing genuine effort into getting to know your team.

Organizational Understanding

Having knowledge about how things get accomplished within your organization is important when it comes to having influence. Knowing the proper steps to move through processes swiftly and correctly will make people more likely to want to follow your ideas or support your projects because they have increased confidence in your ability to meet goals and see success.

Need to improve your organizational understanding? Start by paying attention to how things are being accomplished by others in your organization. You can also participate and join in on meetings to learn more about how projects move through the pipeline in your organization. What processes are they following? Which people seem to be key decision-makers? Knowing the answers to questions like these will help you better understand the steps you need to follow in order to take your ideas from execution to completion. 


Increasing expertise allows you to back up your recommendations or ideas with more than just an opinion. Being considered an expert in your industry or department helps you to be more influential because others have confidence in you and trust in your recommendations. 

Need to increase expertise? Start by engaging in professional development opportunities and learning as much as you can about the industry you work in. You could also earn a certification or complete a program to expand your credentials.

On an individual level, increasing your organizational influence will help you to further along your ideas and projects, resulting in greater accomplishments and progress for your team. On an organizational level, having influential team members will help move projects along more smoothly and swiftly, allowing your organization to make more progress toward achieving its mission and vision.

If your organization needs support in helping team members gain authority to increase their influence, reach out to Cause Capacity today to learn more about how we can help!


bottom of page