• Lars Christensen

Influence without Authority by Allan R. Cohen and David L. Bradford ~ 3 minute read.



I finished this book for the second time in February 2021. I recommend this book 7/10.

As stated above, I've read this book two times, as I seem to come back to it when either I have a personal conflict at work—or as of this time, starting in a new department and looking to create influence.

I'm not sure this is the best book on the topic, but it does set the right framework. It talks about currencies and that if you can find what the other person value, you are on the right track.

If you, from time to time, struggle to find mutual agreement with co-workers or have to work across functional teams, you will pick up some best practices from this book. You can get your copy here.

My notes and thoughts:

  • P47- Therefore, it is the better part of valor, even when employing the negative variation of currency exchange, to look for a positive way to frame the currency. "I know you wouldn't want to be left out" probably will get a more positive response than "If you don't corporate, I'll see that you're left out."

  • P52- Understand what you have to offer. Start with what you know. What has your training and experience give you access to that could be valuable to others.

  • Rare technical knowledge?

  • Organizational information such as where expertise resides, what department's activities, or who holds resources that aren't being used.

  • Customer knowledge such as who a key customer is playing golf with, what problems they are having using your company's products, how they have improved new uses for your products that might be of interest to other customers—potential clients who are not being attended to now.

  • Political information such as who is unhappy, planning to leave, on the rise, or close to key higher-ups.

  • P59- Things that might be important about the other person's role to figure out their values and currency:

  • Does the person deal with numbers all day or with people?

  • Is the work repetitive or highly varied?

  • Does the person experience demands for careful accuracy and replicability or get rewarded for originality and improvisation?

  • Is the person subject to constant demands from others or the one who makes many demands on them?

  • Is the person a high-risk, high-visibility position or a securely protected role?

  • P60- The way people behave is often strongly dictated by the way their performance is measured and rewarded. Those who act "difficult" or negative may only be doing what they have been told will be regarded as good performance in that function.

  • P81- In general, it is important to think carefully about what you want from each person or group that you are trying to influence; decide in advance the minimum you need from each. Because in most cases, your wish list will contain more than the potential ally may be willing (or able) to five, it's important to know the difference between what would be nice to have and what is absolutely necessary.

  • P128- Currency is like saving to a bank account; others might be worried about when you will collect the debt. Here are two guidelines:

  • Be explicit. Sometimes saying, "I would like to help you now because I have some slack and I know that I am going to have to come with requests second quarter when deadlines get tight" can remove suspicion because you are overt about your intentions; it also signals ahead of time the nature of the exchange, so the implied obligation is clear.

  • Put the organization first. As we have insisted before, if you are helping others primarily to further organization goals in their eyes, then the fact that there are secondary gains to you and your area is likely to be more acceptable.

  • P138- Three rules of being a Diplomat:

  1. Never tell a lie

  2. Never tell all the truth.

  3. When in doubt, go to the bathroom

  • P149- The approach to influence your boss:

  • See your boss as a potential ally (a partner)

  • Make sure you really understand the boss's world.

  • Be aware of the resources (currencies) you already have or can acquire.

  • Pay attention to how the other wants to be related to.

  • P192- When dealing with a charter, does the charter manager already know what solution he or she wants and expects you to deliver? And what are the probabilities that recommendations will get implemented? Be upfront with the manager that you don't want to waste his/her and your time working on proposals that end up going nowhere. Another way to bring some creditability to the project is to bring in an executive sponsor.

  • P223- If you are dealing with someone who believes in driving a hard bargain, first do not take it personally. Separate your personal identity from the role you are in. Think of the bargaining from the other person as a kind of sport played perhaps for high stakes.

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