Leading With Influence vs Authority

When it comes to your organizational culture there is a statement that comes to mind.

Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner?

Well, I am adding an end to that sentence.

...but only if your strategy is ill-informed.

Influence, Authority and Culture are all related and it all is as it is. You can judge it as wrong or right, but the organizational culture is what it is.  When implementing a change, it’s best to realize that your culture is NOT going to change in this instance. So, you need to leverage it in designing your change management strategy; rather than resist and judge it for being wrong or soft or toxic or weak. If you are the Change Leader of a project that must get done, roll your sleeves up and take a listen to this short Video Blog by me on my comparison of Hierarchical Cultures and Clan (People) Cultures and what kinds of influence vs authority strategies work and which don’t and why.

In this video rant, I compare Mining to Healthcare – industries in that I have a depth of knowledge and experience.

Watch the video now

Video Transcript:

[00:00:00] In this video, I’m going to address the big question. Is it better to lead projects by influence, authority a mix of both or something else. And I’m going to answer that question based on the different culture types that exist within your organization. I put out a survey recently on LinkedIn and I asked, which is better to implement change, influence authority or a mix of influence and authority.

And I put it out there fully expecting that a lot of people wouldn’t pick authority. And I have a little bit of something to say about that. And that basically is. The reason that a lot of people don’t pick authority, when they talk about, implementing change is because they think that’s the [00:01:00] wrong thing to say.

And the short answer about whether you should be implementing change using influence authority or a mix of influence and authority simply boils down to. What type of an organizational culture do you have? If you have a hierarchical organizational culture, then absolutely. You need to implement change by authority.

The military is a great example of a hierarchical organizational culture. If you want something done in the military, you basically. Let people know you want that done. A lot of mining operations, especially in remote communities are excellent examples of hierarchical organizational cultures.

And let’s talk about the concept of safety, imagine the military, you are a people based culture, and you’re out there in the field and you’re [00:02:00] relying on suggestions instead of your commanding officer telling you. Where to look where to go, what to do? you would not be very comfortable in that situation to have as a people based culture.

So the, then let’s talk about, when is it better to use influence? It’s always better to use influence, but the point being that in a hierarchical organizational culture, Using influence might be. You suggest that something should be done a certain way or you lead by example. Those things absolutely work, but suggestion and leading by example has to come after you’ve directed someone to do something a certain way in a hierarchical organizational culture.

So when we talk about hierarchical organizational cultures the question might be. why is mining considered so slow to change if people are so willing to change? And if it’s so [00:03:00] easy to implement change, the simple answer, in my opinion, because this is really just my opinion is people at the higher levels are afraid of failure in a hierarchical organizational culture the upward level accountability is pretty high, so you don’t really have a lot of room for innovation. So failure is not an option. Therefore a lot of mining operations will not adopt new changes, new technologies. They always want to be the first to be second or third or fourth, really and that’s the primary reason for why mining is a little bit slower to change than most other operations

When we go further ahead and we talk about a more people centric organizational culture, a clan based culture. in that particular type of culture, you need a lot more influence because in that [00:04:00] culture, which is typically a healthcare organization, people are expecting to be asked their opinion, people want their opinion to be heard. People want it to be their idea and things like that. And that’s when change starts happening. The healthcare culture is actually a much slower culture to implement change with, but the reason we perceive the healthcare culture to be so fast at adopting change especially if you compare to the mining culture, because healthcare has had significant advancements it’s because the stakes are much higher and Clan based culture actually allows room for innovation. So even though technology adoption at the front lines,

doing, uh, actual recording right into your EMR or at the patient’s bedside. May not be as commonplace necessarily. Your electronic health [00:05:00] records may not port from place to place but healthcare innovation in general is doing pretty good. vaccination development, as COVID 19 pandemic hit, that’s an example of healthcare being really fast to change and innovate and adopt it’s because it’s life or death.

And if we don’t innovate, we die. And Healthcare needs to be a people based culture. Mining needs to be a hierarchical culture in certain times.

to answer the question, is it better to lead change by influence or authority? It really depends on the type of culture you’re operating within. If you have a hierarchical culture where people expect you to lay the law down, to do something, to make change happen, then you should do that.

You should make sure that you have the right stakeholders at the table, laying down the law to make change happen. You can’t be trying to make change happen [00:06:00] by influence when authority is the way to make change if you’re in a culture where influence is the way to make change happen, then your strategy has to adjust accordingly.

So implementing change by using influence versus authority or a combination of both. Is really a moot point, it’s only relevant in the context of the organizational culture, within which you are implementing change.

we’re currently doing free project assessments and would love to take a peek at your next change management project. Thank you.