How Do I Lead Up And Influence When I Am Not In Charge?


Leadership is about influence.   The most common type of influence is a leader’s ability to impact their team.  Sometimes however, you aim to Lead Up.  Leading up is about impacting your organization and even your immediate report, a.k.a,  your Boss.  You do not need positional power in order to lead.  You can still make a difference even without the title.


I recently heard a podcast by Craig Groeschel’s Leadership Podcast.  He is the Senior Pastor at Life Church.  Now before you click off this website because you are not religious, you don’t need to be.  What was accomplished in this organization took immense leadership.  I am not a member of Life Church but realize that in order for them to have expanded as they did, it took influence.  His Leadership Podcast is about making a difference to your team, organization and environment.


Craig reviews his listeners’ most commonly asked question:  “How do I lead when I’m not in charge?”


Have you ever wanted to share a vision or idea you had for the company you work for?  How do you create impact when you don’t have the authority to do so?  In order for a company to keep growing and gain success, it is a best practice to be able to be open to the ideas and solutions of every single employee.  But how, as an employee, can you communicate in a way that helps ensure your message is heard?


“No organization will ever be what it could be without honest, upward communication.” –craiggroeschel


If you are thinking of solutions to problems some people don’t even know exist, then keep reading.  The better you get at leading up, the greater your ability to move up later.  This article is about improving your personal power and your ability to influence what a group thinks.


[tweetthis] “Your ability to lead up now will help determine your ability to move up later.” –@craiggroeschel[/tweetthis]


Five Things that Matter When You’re Leading Up:


Honor Matters

Respect is earned and honor is given.  Honor publicly results in influence privately.


Timing Matters

It is important to value others’ time.  If you want to discuss an idea, be prepared and keep it short.  Communicating your idea when the time is wrong will ensure your message is not fully heard.


Motives matter

Your only motivation to lead up should be to push the mission forward.  It shouldn’t be about making yourself look good, but the team and the company.  I remember an employee who loved to point out problems.  The problem was, that was all she did.  Although she may have meant well, it came off as complaining.  Highlight opportunities but ensure they are attached to solutions.  If you want to have upward influence, become solution minded.


“There is a massive difference between thinking critically and being critical.” –@craiggroeschel


Initiative matters

One of the best ways to gain more responsibility is to show how you can successfully manage the responsibilities you have already.  If you are willing to do what others won’t do, you will earn influence others don’t have.  Think of ways you can support your leader and look for different ways you can support the company’s vision.


Truth matters

Mean what you say.  Say what you mean.   Truth and transparency is always better than being a yes-man.  If two people always agree on the same points, then one is unnecessary.  If you care enough to tell the truth, you will gain credibility and value.  It comes down to intention and communication.


“Be yourself. People would rather follow a leader who is always real than one who is always right.”


You can listen to the podcast, or watch the YouTube version below.  He starts the video by answering a listener’s question then goes into Part 2 of his Lead Up video.  I am embedding the second part because he does a great job of summarizing the first video.  If you want to listen to part 1, click the link, “Leading Up, Part 1”.


How to Lead Up and Influence When You are Not in Charge



Short on time? Start listening at 16:38. Craig discusses how one of the most important moments of the organization was when someone in his team led up.

Even if you don’t have the title, you can still make a difference. Do you have a success story when you tried to lead up?