The strategy of informal leadership can be a key strategy in your success as a business, and in implementing new plans, processes, or products. Let’s take a look at some tried and true techniques to end power struggles with your informal leaders, move your organization in the direction you want it to go, and possibly rid your life of some sleepless nights. I assume these are things you would like to accomplish. Although your quest to solve world peace on those many sleepless nights may have to be put on hold, you can become more effective within your organization.
First, let’s take an objective look at your leadership style.
- Are you actively involved with your team?
- Does your team have ready access to you?
- Does the team know your value system and how they fit into it?
- Is the team loyal to you as the leader?
- You can only be a leader if you have followers, so who is following you?
Second, let’s talk about the informal leaders.
- Are they actively involved in your team?
- Are they engaged with the team on a regular basis?
- Are they trustworthy?
- Who is following them?
Ken Blanchard companies conducted a survey of 1400 people in which they identified communication as the most important leadership skill one can have. An article in Forbes stated it like this: “It is simply impossible to become a great leader without being a great communicator.” How does your team rank you as an effective communicator? How do they rank their informal leader?
Informal leaders routinely have great communication skills, but they are not necessarily talking all the time. Generally, the team listens to an informal leader because they feel they are heard (listened to) consistently by that person. Although not all informal leaders work for the good of the overall organization, the point is that people yearn for leadership–they will take it in whatever mode they can get it. It is human nature that when employees don’t feel informed about what is going on, they will make assumptions. Unfortunately, their assumptions tend to be inaccurate and are often negative. It is imperative that the formal and informal leaders are consistent with their messages.
If your organization is in the process of making changes, implementing new processes or products, it is critical that your formal leadership and informal leadership are working together. Facing implementation of new systems, new policies, and new skills is difficult enough without compounding the problems by having mixed messages flow through the organization. If you harness the power of informal leadership, you can make these changes less painful and as seamless as possible. A skilled leader will employ intention and deliberate action to make best use of all available resources.