Accomplishing anything requires the combination of responsibility and authority. Unfortunately, when you're trying to lead from inside an organization, you don't technically have either. What you need to do is learn how to achieve something as a leader. This means finding a way to create influence and bring others in the organization in concert with what you're trying to achieve — a complex solution.
Initiative Becomes Influence
You can gain influence by being willing to work. That can mean taking on jobs that no one else wants to handle. It also means working beyond the description of your position, helping others when and where you can, pushing projects though to completion, and even taking some risks.
When growing a crystal, you start with a small piece of well-formed structure, called a seed crystal, in a liquid saturated in the material you want to crystallize. The seed crystal acts like a model, providing the foundation for a larger structure that sets the pattern of growth. You want your initiative to become a seed crystal.
What you are doing is creating an atmosphere conducive to gaining the cooperation of others. Willingness is an attractive characteristic in the broadest sense. It gets people to act in compatible ways. Your active support of the team and its goals calls forth similar action in others. In that way, they willingly put themselves at the service of what you are trying to do because in that way, they are connected to meaning.
When you work to help achieve principles and goals that are larger than yourself, you're acting as an advocate for them. You can become the living embodiment as you try to bring them into existence. But you cannot do that unthinkingly. If you are going to be an advocate, you must be an educated one. Learn about the organization — its structure, hierarchy, and culture. Extend that knowledge outward to other areas that might apply to what you're doing.
Take Advantage of Organizational Values
Many organizations come up with grand-sounding sets of principles and intents. Sadly, this is often nothing more than talk. But it doesn't have to be that way. Specifically, you can take personal responsibility for implementing the values and putting them into practice. That helps the organization find its way. You help it start to actualize its aspirations — what it says it wants to be. When you connect action with highest principles, you create meaning, and that brings motivation into play.
In virtually every organization, people are dying — on the inside, at least — for something that has meaning. When you take a stand for something meaningful, you spark the hope and imagination of everyone else. When that happens, you'll find massive amounts of goodwill and help.
There is another practical advantage to embodying organizational values. It gets very tough for people at the top of the organization to push out those who are everything the group claims to be. You insulate yourself to a surprising degree from managerial reaction because people in power can't really take an obvious stand against what they said they stand for.