A leader may be appointed by management but true influence and authority may emanate from the rank and file.

Success begins and ends with leadership. Clearly, formal leaders are vital; however, it is important not to overlook the power of influence leaders. These folks are informal leaders who command significant influence in an organization – typically unsung heroes. Who do people follow?

At all of my most successful clients, I find informal leaders. Sometimes they are in a leadership position of some sort but not the “top dog”, and often they have no official power. Yet these influence leaders wield VAST influence on the organization’s success. Typically, they are known for championing the critical yet difficult changes. They seem to genuinely care about the people and the progress. They work hard and set a positive example. They are willing to share credit and accept blame. They aren’t afraid to share feedback and ideas. In essence, they are LEADERS yet have no title (or certainly not one which denotes power).

In my experience, I find these informal leaders can have significantly more influence on success and results than the formal leaders. People will follow those they know, like and trust. You must do what you say you’ll do. If not, people will listen to what you do; not what you say. One of the best ways to successfully navigate change is to get these informal leaders involved in the process upfront. Gain their respect, and the change will occur. Try to dictate the change, and you might as well hang up your briefcase.