Leaders are those who lead, which does imply working with others. When you're on the inside and not at the top, you can just start doing what is necessary. But that is insufficient at times. You may see something that needs to be done but that is beyond your authority. Help is especially important in such a case, and you may need to build a constituency to help you succeed.
Find Your Colleagues
People use the term
In addition to colleagues, supporters will be helpful. These are others in the organization who may not have your drive but who view your desire and goals with sympathy and who are willing to help.
Work Across the Organization
To find colleagues and supporters, you must think more broadly than your organizational backyard. The most appropriate candidates may be people on your own team, in other parts of the organization, or even outside it. A suitable person isn't necessarily someone in a given position; it's someone in a suitable place who shares the passion to get something done and who is willing to work with others to achieve success. Such people may well be leaders themselves. By standing someplace other than where you do, their relationship to the goal is, of necessity, different. Another part of the organization suggests the availability of different knowledge and ability resources.
Networking is making useful contacts. The process is successful when you learn more about the organization and others know that you want to be involved. Essentially, networking puts you in the loop.
Establish who the key players are. Who can help you get ahead? Who has the information or knowledge that is of the most value to you in reaching your goals? Understand that the key to effective networking is to make it a give-and-take relationship. You should always start out by giving far more than you take. Of course, it will work only if you have knowledge, expertise, ability, or authority in an area where someone else is lacking.
Once you have developed the giving part of the relationship, then you can begin to get something in return. There is nothing backhanded about networking. It is an essential part of developing relationships in organizations.
You don't win others to your cause by complaining, begging, threatening, or demanding. Only persuasion can call them to help. Don't confuse being persuasive with flattering or a false bonhomie. Pleasantness and warmth do play roles, just not singular ones. In being persuasive, you combine elements of logic and emotional appeal.
Samuel Adams is known as one of the drivers of American independence. He became interested in the idea long before most others, but he knew that most wouldn't support what he wanted early on. He had to spend many years persuading those around him to eventually get the support he sought.
You're trying to show that what you want to accomplish fits in with the person's desire to support the organization and with the person's own goals. At the point that they think and feel that helping you does something they wanted to do anyway, you'll get their support. However, this can and will take time. Start building constituencies long before you need them.
As much as we talk about building coalitions, not everyone will be open to working with you. Sometimes the most reluctant people are those in authority. That presents a sticky problem. The very people in charge may, for personal reasons, not want the organization to move forward, at least not when the efforts aren't directed by them. These people might even actively oppose what you are trying to do.
There are at least two ways of handling such an impasse. Pardon the emerging Machiavellian streak, but one is to manipulate the authority figures to either think that the efforts were theirs or to set things in motion and effectively give them credit early on, so that it becomes difficult from them to try and sink the activity. This is a dangerous game to play, and it involves behavior sneakier than many people may be comfortable with. You have to put so much effort into the intrigue that you can start losing sight of what it is you wanted to do. Such machinations can also backfire.
In the corporate world there is a concept known as a skunk works. This is an activity that is started out of view of anyone in power and often without official sanction. The group uses corporate resources to develop something that works outside normal channels and then presents its results upon success.
Instead, it is preferable to build organizational momentum. It's similar in some ways to manipulating the authority figures, except it is more indirect. You don't try to trick the people in question. Instead, you create a grassroots movement and start achieving results. You work around the uncooperative authority figure and, when you've had some success, announce what people in the organization have been able to accomplish. Make sure the results go not just to the supervisor but by official or even back-channel routes to the people above. There's still a chance that someone will squash the initiative, but it's more likely that those higher up in the organization will be delighted with the winning effort, which makes opposition virtually impossible.