I'm coaching a client (I'll call him Steve to protect anonymity) who heads up the Planning & Development function for a large energy related company. One of Steve's biggest frustrations is working with the head marketing and finance guys to determine who 'owns' each incoming project deal ….. Who's driving the bus and pushing it through to completion? Who's accountable?
The president is consistently making sure Steve's involved and this makes the president feel better, but Steve's concerned that he may be held accountable for others when they're driving the project. He's also concerned about getting his peers' attention to seriously consider his ideas in the deal structure.
Naturally, there will be a very different focus depending on who's 'driving'. The financial guy takes a more conservative approach, the marketing guy tends to favor the client, and Steve works hard to balance all the concerns to get the best deal for the company.
There's many variables at play here ….. Authority, Accountability, Influence. Sound familiar?
* Influencing Others When You Have Less Positional Authority *
Let's look at the * Influence component *. The underlying challenge for Steve is to step fully into his leadership role and constructively confront his peers when it makes sense for Steve to drive a project or play a larger role. He's younger than his two peers and has a title one level lower than them. Yet, they all report to the president.
* The Opportunity Waiting to Hatch *
What's the opportunity for Steve? I see he's got a clear opportunity to stake his claim and step up. When you get to senior levels of management, nobody is going to give you things anymore; you have to go for them. You have to be clear who you are, what you bring to the party, where you can add the most value, then determine the relationship and influence approach that will get you there.
* Pushing Out Your Elbows *
For Steve, he calls it "pushing out his elbows". It's a great visual for expanding out and stepping into that larger space of full leadership and potential within you. And it requires taking a risk and asserting yourself. It's possible you'll get some bumps and bruises, but it's really the only way to find the bridges or the boundaries in your organization's culture and the individuals you work with most closely.
* Where Can You Apply? *
What's a specific situation that's calling you to step up more fully and push out your elbows? What's the best approach to move this forward? What's one specific action you can take this month to move that situation forward?