How To Make Change When You Aren’t the Boss

Last week I was with TEEMA Solutions Group, a North America-wide staffing firm, keynoting their annual conference and talking with influencers throughout the company.

Many of the people I spoke with don’t have formal leadership roles at TEEMA.  They don’t sit on the executive team, or chair a company committee.  And yet, some of those people have a ton of influence on the company, despite not holding an official title.

So how do you become an influencer when you’re not the boss?  Here are some of the ways the sharpest people at TEEMA do it:

  1. Cultivate a reputation for helping others: Who are you more likely to listen to: your strata president, of the neighbor who spends the morning helping you move?   We naturally listen to people who help.
  2. Own your mistakes: When you can’t own your own weakness, people lose respect for you. “The difference between being thought of as a sage or a fool is self awareness.”  Be transparent.  We assume that hiding our weakness is the way to build trust.  The opposite is true.
  3. Don’t ask for special treatment: The squeaky wheel may get the grease, but eyes roll in senior management when the squeaker’s name comes up. Squeaky wheels are tolerated, but their counsel is not sought out.
  4. Be positive: Ask yourself whether your comments lift people around you, or deflate them.  Share the ones that lift others, and you’ll be sought out as a leader.  Everyone gravitates towards positive people.

Wherever you are today in your career, bloom where you’re potted.  Do your best at what you’re doing right now, and good things will follow in the future.

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