Influence Without Authority – Allan R. Cohen, David L. Bradford Book Summary

Influence Without Authority – Allan R. Cohen, David L. Bradford | Free Book Summary

Influence Without Authority – Allan R. Cohen, David L. Bradford

Explore ways in which we can influence others without having authority over them.

Influence Without Authority: Introduction

We’ve all experienced it: a sense of frustration when you’re accountable for delivering value without having any authority over the people that are critical to delivering that value. Whether it’s stakeholders, customers, developers, designers, there’s only so much we can do to influence and create the level of buy-in or cooperation required to create successful products.

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The IWA Model

The IWA model outlines the concept of Influence without Authority.

It highlights the key components: 

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The currencies of exchange – The aforementioned IWA model is based on exchange and reciprocity – making trades for what you desire in return for what the other person desires.

Deciding with whom to attempt exchanges – The ability to consider and decide potential allies to exchange is a critical part of the IWA model.

Gaining clarity on your objectives – For the IWA model to work effectively, it’s important that you figure out exactly what you want, and prioritise your goals accordingly.

Types Of Currencies Of Exchange

  • Inspiration related currencies like vision, moral or ethical correctness and the need for excellence.
  • Task-related currencies like certain give and take of resources, challenges and assistance. It can also mean organisational support, rapid response to future problems and exchange of information.
  • Position related currencies like recognition, visibility with the CEO, reputation, importance and insider information/perks. A chance to network with the coveted people can also provide leverage.
  • Relationship related currencies like understanding, sympathy, personal support and inclusion.

Personal Currencies

Gratitude – While gratitude may be another form of recognition or support, it is not necessarily a job-related one that can be valued highly by some people who make a point of being helpful to others.

Ownership/Involvement – The chance that they feel that they are partly in control of something important or have a chance to make a major contribution.

Self-related – These currencies cover those that are consistent with a person’s image of himself or herself.

Comfort – Some individuals place a high value on personal comfort.

Negative Currencies

Currencies are what people value. But it is also possible to think of negative currencies, things that people do not value and wish to avoid:

  • Not giving recognition
  • Not offering support
  • Not providing challenge
  • Threatening to quit the situation
  • Raising voice, yelling
  • Refusing to cooperate when asked
  • Escalating issue upwards to common boss
  • Going public with the issue, making lack of cooperation visible
  • Attacking a person’s reputation, integration
  • Retribution.

Gain Clarity On Your Objectives

  • What are your primary goals?
  • What personal factors get in the way?
  • Be flexible about achieving goals.
  • Adjust expectations of your role and your ally’s role.

Deciding With Whom To Attempt Exchanges

Centrality of the ally – How powerful is the other person? What resources does he or she control? How exclusive is the person’s control of those resources?  

Amount of effort/credits needed – Do you already have a relationship with the person, or will you be starting from scratch?  

Alternatives available – Do you know anyone whose support will help gain the support of the potential ally?

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