Who's that Girl?


Tap Into Informal Leaders to Influence

Originally posted: September 17, 2010 on TrishMcFarlane.com

Back in July, I wrote ‘Leaders Don’t Always Think About Being Leaders‘ because I had just returned from the Conference Board’s  leadership experience at Gettysburg.  Coming off that experience, I believe I have been thinking about leadership in a different way.  Not only is it important to analyze who the named leaders are in our organizations, but it’s important to look at who the people are in the organization that influence employee perception.  This group includes all those informal leaders that people in the various departments look to when new initiatives roll out, when company news is announced, etc.

I recently attended a meeting where someone said that in order to turn or change an organization, you only need to find the square root of the total employees and focus on spreading the word through that number of people.  For example:

Organization size-  5,000 employees

Square root of 5,000-  70.71 employees

So, in order to make change stick in this example, you would need to find the 70 employees who are the informal leaders/ influencers and get them on board. Messaging should still come from more formal channels but by getting the influencers to spread the word with you, you can make a more significant impact on the organizational change.

Have you seen evidence of this in your experience?  Share it in the comments.  I’d love to hear about examples of how driving change through a small group of employees can work.  What were the challenges in identifying the informal leaders and influencers?

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