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Influence without Authority

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Influence without Authority


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

To exercise influence above and beyond your power, learn what people want and swap it for their compliant cooperation.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


This excellent leadership guide by Allan R. Cohen and David L. Bradford offers a classic, necessary set of prescriptions for anyone working in a flat, team-based organization. That is to say, it is a guide that will prove useful to almost everybody employed at a contemporary organization. The waning of the old hierarchical organization, with its clear lines of authority and control-command management styles, puts a greater emphasis on your individual ability to achieve your goals by enlisting support from people who, often, have no obligation to provide it. getAbstract recommends this clear, jargon-free outline of the basic principles you need to know to influence others, even if you lack sufficient authority.


The Influence Model

To work well in contemporary organizations, you need to be able to wield influence. The essence of leadership at any organizational level is to elicit cooperation, since even leaders with authority rarely have enough power to force people to cooperate. Cooperation is a two-way street, and influence is a kind of exchange. To achieve your objectives, you need collaborators. To enlist them, plan ahead so you can help those you seek to influence achieve their own objectives.

As you try to exercise influence, you may encounter internal and external barriers. There are internal barriers to influence, which are usually more difficult, obstinate blockages than the external barriers are.

They include:

  • Ignorance of the nature of influence: which is, fundamentally, that both parties give and take – in fact, you must give in order to take.
  • Destructive attitudes that prevent you from recognizing the truth, especially about yourself and those you seek to influence.
  • Fear of what the other party might say or do.
  • Failure to explain to others how they could benefit from helping you.

Critical external barriers to...

About the Authors

Allan R. Cohen is a distinguished professor of global leadership and Director of Corporate Entrepreneurship at Babson College. David L. Bradford is a senior lecturer on organizational behavior at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and Director of Stanford’s Executive Program in Leadership. They are the co-authors of Managing for Excellence and Power Up.

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