We are proud to present the following excerpt from ‘Leading Without Authority: How the New Power of Co-Elevation Can Break Down Silos, Transform Teams, and Reinvent Collaboration’ by Keith Ferrazzi with Noel Weyrich.
very workplace suffers from office politics. The remedy is to lead a team of your own creation. To lead others who do not necessarily report to you. In other words, to lead without authority.
You must awaken to the realization that for every goal you have, for every project or mission you have, you are responsible for leading a much broader group of people than the formal members of your team. The more ambitious the mission, the broader this group will be, and yet your leadership of this group must be as committed as it would be if each one of them were reporting to you.
Most of us feel a sense of loyalty and obligation to the formal teams we are assigned to, or that are assigned to us. We care about the people on our teams—at least, on good days. We support them and go to bat for them; we want them to succeed and grow. Now, as the work continues to shift toward more loosely organized cross-functional teams, we have to extend that same degree of care, concern, commitment, and camaraderie to all our new team members—even the people we don’t yet realize are on the team. It’s the only way to achieve extraordinary results.
When we lead without authority, we consider all the people who may be critical to us achieving our goals. And we enlist them as members of our team. It’s a unique opportunity to set aside the limits imposed by the resources you control, and instead consider the impact you want to make.
But where to start? What’s the mission? How can you elevate it? Perhaps you’re in sales and want to redesign how you go to market by bringing the product and marketing folks onto your team. Or there’s some sort of friction point between your department and another group and your goal is to eliminate it. Every company’s leadership needs its employees aiming as high as possible to create breakthrough solutions to meet new market pressures, and the only way to do this is to bring everyone who could contribute to your mission onto the team.
Here are some tips and best practices about how to get started co-elevating, how to build on early success, and how to best track and organize all your co-elevating teams.
“The resisters tend to come around once they start seeing results.”
1. Start Where It’s Easiest
Leading without authority doesn’t have to be hard. My advice, early on, is to find someone you think you’ll have a positive experience co-elevating with. Choose someone most likely to grasp the roughly outlined vision you think deserves your collective attention. Even better, I would encourage you to start building that co-elevating relationship before you need to. The more time you spend nurturing and building relationship ties with an associate you respect and think you may want to work with on something big, the easier it will be later to invite them to join you in taking on challenging and aspirational projects together.
Then shift your focus toward potential partners and new teammates who can help you to achieve positive momentum fast. Don’t waste too much time trying to convince resisters to join the fun. In our coaching of large-scale change, we find that when you build momentum with positive people first, the resisters tend to come around once they start seeing results.