Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

3 strategies to lead when you can’t mandate

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Most organizations are made up of teams that work together to accomplish a common objective. Within those teams are individuals who are responsible for specific tasks. The combination of those tasks create the desired outcome. What is the secret to influencing others to work together effectively?

Lead-not-mandate

If you’re in a position where you depend on others for your success—but they do not report to you—you can influence them to be more committed and to complete their work efficiently. You can have a direct impact on the end result of their work.

For you to achieve this desired outcome, you first need to recognize the need for leadership and accept the responsibility. Once you’re committed to leading those you cannot mandate, you’re on the way to significant improvements you likely haven’t experienced in the past. Here are three strategies to start leading those you can’t command:

  1. Develop confidence: The way you interact and work with people makes all the difference. You need to show confidence in yourself and what you’re doing. You need to create optimism and enthusiasm for the work they are doing and get them onboard for the success of the overall project.
  2. Take decisive action: Indecision is one of the biggest inhibitors of progress. Making decisions is naturally difficult. The Latin root of the word ‘decision’ means ‘to cut off.’ However, as you make decisions and move forward, you establish your leadership with the people you work with. They see you as the leader who gets things done.
  3. Communicate effectively: Communication is the key to effective work. It’s important to let everyone know what they need to do to achieve the end goal. As you interact with people and express your conviction in what you’re doing, they will get onboard.

You have the ability to lead people who don’t report to you. Your influence will make all the difference in the success of your ultimate goal.

Questions: How do you lead people that don’t report to you? What impact has another’s influence had on your career? Please leave a comment in the space below.


The Product Management Perspective: As product managers, the end result of everything you do depends on many other people. The strategies described here are a key to your success. If you’re a long-time reader of Lead on Purpose you will recognize this theme and its direct application to product management.

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