Six Ways To Get Things Done When You’re Not The Boss

Achieving your goals in today’s workplace is about
the right behaviors–not the right job titles. That’s
true whether you’re operating in a boardroom
meeting, on a PTA committee, or running your own
small company. It’s possible to get results from
people who don’t report to you; influence
colleagues in differing roles or generations; and
lead initiatives without being the boss. These steps
can help you create a natural following.
1. Customize your approach. Bend, adjust, and
mold your style to fit someone else’s. If she wants
to hear from you via voicemail and email, it doesn’t
matter if you think that’s outdated or cumbersome.
You’ll get better, faster results if you adjust your
style to what she wants, rather than communicating
with her via text because you prefer it. When you
make it effortless for someone to respond to you or
work with you, she will.
2. Control the vision, not the process. If you
can help others see what you need from them,
you’ll be more likely to get it. People want a clear
vision of what’s expected so they can successfully
achieve it. But leave the how-to-get-there to the
person whose help you seek. Don’t micromanage
the process. Instead, fill in your end-result picture
with exceptional detail and allow others to chart a
3. Enhance the commitment. Salespeople ask
for the sale, and you need to ask for a commitment
and projected delivery date: “Can I count on you for
this? When can I expect you’ll get it to me?” Then
offer assistance and ask what help might ease their
priorities or smooth their way: “What can I do to
help you? Is there anything you need?” Follow
through immediately if you need to involve others,
or provide additional information.
Then, get permission to follow up: “Is it okay if I
check back next week and see if you need anything
else?” This check-in is not an attempt to manage
them; that’s not your role. Rather, it’s a second
chance for you to clear obstacles or assist should
difficulties arise that could prevent you from
getting what you need when you need it.
4. Help them, help you. When we need
something, we tend to make things easier for
ourselves–not others. But those who get great
results do the opposite: they make it easier for the
person they need something from. Have to get a
quote for a press release from a busy manager?
Draft two alternatives they can choose from or
tweak. Need a status update from teammates?
Don’t make them comply with a predesigned
format that’s easier for you. Let them give their
update in whatever fashion they want, even if it’s
over lunch, walking to a meeting, or from a
A project that’s crucial for you to move forward
may be low on the priority list of others. Develop
the spec, straw-person, or outline and have them
sign off. Complete the funding documents or
shepherd approvals through the process. Write the
proposal and give it to them or their staff for
review. Figure out ways to help them help you, and
they will.
5. Act like a musketeer. The Three Musketeers
got it right – “All for one and one for all!” Like 17th-
century musketeers who understood if one was in
trouble, they all were in trouble, those who get
great results operate with unspoken commitments
that go beyond self-interest.
Accountability is essential to being a musketeer.
People respect, trust, and want to work with
colleagues who don’t hide their mistakes, invent
cover-ups, or blame others. Those who step up, own
a problem, and work to fix it build relationship
capital. In an era where it’s difficult to trust the
messages or the messengers, behavioral integrity
is at the root of influence.
6. Be trustworthy. If you want to get better
results from those who don’t report to you, being
trusted counts. In fact, it’s the essential difference
in the operating style of those who consistently
make things happen without title and authority and
those who don’t. So be consistent and honor your
commitments. It will give others confidence in you
and the relationship.



14 thoughts on “Six Ways To Get Things Done When You’re Not The Boss

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