Positively Influencing Others Without Formal Authority

Have you ever wondered how to influence and inspire those around you even without being in a position of power? It’s easy to influence others from a position of power, because coercion is often inherent in that dynamic. Formal positions of authority naturally entice others to acquiesce due to the prestige of the position and implied superiority of the person sitting in it. Others will follow that person due to fear of reprisal in the form of job loss, arrest, public shame, etc. But what entices people to follow someone without that authority, title, or eminence?

It’s first necessary to have knowledge. People will only listen to you if they think you know what you’re talking about. This means you need to exude confidence. And you should know what steps are necessary to achieve your goal and clearly communicate those steps to others.

Know what motivates other people. Know what they fear and what they want. Allay their fears and motivate them using what they want, whether that be money, power, flexibility, etc.

It’s also necessary to be likable. This includes being friendly, empathetic, proving you’re trustworthy, and listening more than you speak. It doesn’t matter what hard skills or qualifications you have backing your position if people don’t like you. People tend to listen to others who they like, not necessarily those with the best qualifications.

Practice what you preach. Set a good example and people will be inspired to follow you. Let them see your way is realistic and that you are willing to follow it, yourself.

Whether in a work, school, or personal setting, it’s possible to influence and inspire even those over whom you do not wield official power. When people follow you of their own volition instead of by force, positive change comes easier, is longer-lasting, and is more stable.