Managers, now more than ever, need to be persuasive. Marci Alboher, in her New York Times blog, wrote how effective leaders in flat, team-oriented, global organizations must have good powers of persuasion. She wrote:
…beefing up our ability to persuade people is crucial to succeeding in today’s team-oriented, less hierarchical work environments.
Erin White, in the Wall Street Journal, wrote:
Managers say they increasingly must influence -- rather than command -- others in order to get their own jobs done. The trend is the result of leaner corporate hierarchies and the erosion of division walls. Managers now work more often with peers where lines of authority aren't clear or don't exist.
Global companies are realizing that they must help their managers develop influencing skills. These managers might, for instance, be assigned to lead a team made up of engineers located in the U.S., China, and India. In this case, the team leader is faced with two enormous challenges. One challenge is trying to influence the members of the team when that team leader has responsibility for results but no authority over the participants, when they are not the team leader’s direct reports. The other challenge is that of trying to influence cross-culturally. Each team member has a different understanding of expectations because of language and behavior differences. Team leaders must learn how to overcome these authority and culture barriers to influence.
Global companies are not the only organizations that need managers with the ability to persuade team members. Any organization that is low on hierarchy and autocracy and high on teamwork depends on leaders who can influence others using the carrot, not the stick.
A blog post by Jo Owen, “Power at Work: Why You Need It, How To Get It”, offers some tools that can help team leaders be persuasive and influential. Owen calls these “laws” for building power (and, therefore, influence) in the workplace. For example, one of the “laws” is to develop a support network. This is done by building trust with the people that know you, which you do by following through on your commitments. This is good advice for any manager in any organization who is trying to influence the work of a team.