Today’s corporate environment throws complex challenges when it comes to coordinating with several groups, having disconnected priorities, aligned to overlapping and sometimes non-overlapping functional groups. It requires carefully crafted interpersonal skills to influence, that too without exercising authority. Understanding how to influence without authority was the topic of discussion for the 3rd contact session in Bangalore held on 20th July, 2013.
Assem Dokania, an alumnus of IIT-Delhi and IIM Kolkata has been associated with Product Management for a fairly long duration and has owned, managed, strategized product development for marquee companies like Microsoft, Adobe, PlayUP, Market RX apart from a host of interesting startups. Currently, he is a Senior Product Manager in Amazon, owning the amazon.in products in mobile ecosystem apart from the payment interface. He is also a distinguished member of the Program Advisory Board in Sunstone.
Takeaways from the session
Large organizations are a myriad web of complex structures, with several stakeholders. In this kind of setup product management is quiet challenging as the delivery teams don’t report into the product management team. That calls for sophisticated ways of influencing without authority so that the outcome is based on an excellent interworking relationship between several stakeholders. So how do you influence without authority? Following are some of the key factors:
- Motivation: In order to influence others one should be absolutely self motivated and capable enough to motivate others.
- Trust: It’s important that a person trying to influence others gain the trust of the stakeholders.
- Belief: Having belief in the roadmap with precise data is key to be able to communicate the plan and get a buy in from the stakeholders.
Having said these, getting mind share is not easy. It’s imperative to create a plan, have the right data to defend the plan, elaborate the outcome using effective storytelling. A greater attention to listening skills is required to understand and figure out if there are challenges faced by the team. Empathizing with the team member’s priorities is also important. While talking about these an interesting aspect that came out was positive escalation, which should be used to facilitate the other party. Example of positive escalation would be to influence management to allocate a higher budget for the delivery team or for procuring hardware and software required. That way, the influencer can gain the desired trust from his/her stakeholders.
Overall, this was an excellent interactive session and helped the students understand a very important aspect of communication. Apart from that the students had a great insight in the way product management works, the challenges they face and the various techniques adopted to overcome the obstacles. Moreover it was interesting to hear about Amazon’s entry into Indian soil.