Developing influence without authority can be challenging, especially for women working in male-dominated work environments. In such settings, it can be tough to be taken seriously, and gaining respect and influence can be an uphill battle. However, there are some strategies that women can use to develop their influence, even when they don’t have formal authority over others.
Here are three tips to help:
Build relationships: Spend some time “making deposits into the relationship bank account.” You’ll be able to “make withdrawals” later. Strong relationships with your colleagues and prospective mentors are crucial in gaining influence. Take time to get to know your co-workers and find common interests that you can bond over. This will help you establish a connection with them, making it easier to communicate and influence them in the future.
Develop expertise: Become an expert in your field by keeping up with industry trends and learning as much as you can. Stay on top of company news, such as financial status, staff changes and company initiatives. When you’re knowledgeable and confident, others will look to you for guidance and advice, even if you don’t have formal authority over them. Be willing to share your knowledge and insights freely, and you’ll quickly become a valuable resource for your team.
Communicate effectively: Effective communication is key to building influence. Be clear and concise when you speak, and make sure your message is easy to understand. Ask questions for clarity and to show interest in the discussion or conversation. Use active listening to ensure you understand the perspective of the person you’re speaking to, and check for understanding to be certain what you heard was what the speaker intended. Be open to feedback and suggestions, and don’t take anything personally. When you communicate well, people will be more likely to listen to your ideas and follow your lead.
Developing influence without authority can be challenging, but by building relationships, developing expertise, and communicating effectively, women can gain the respect and influence they need to succeed in male-dominated work environments.
© Eleanor Hooks, Ph.D, an Executive Coach specializing in Mental Resilience