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Influence without Authority, Second Edition by David L. Bradford, Allan R. Cohen

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Chapter 10. Working Cross Functionally: Leading and Influencing a Team, Task Force, or Committee

The Challenge of Gaining Commitment

One of the places where having only limited authority frustrates many people is in managing task forces and cross-functional teams. Yet, the number of cross-functional groups is growing because the need for more diverse specialties and experts, along with spreading organizational locations driven by more global competition, requires more complicated organizations. Even in situations where you are in charge of your own team of direct reports, it still isn't automatic that you will be able to get full cooperation. As the boss, you can push people hard if they aren't fully engaged, but it can still be challenging to gain full commitment. When the members of the team do not report to you, the challenge is that much greater.

How to gain genuine commitment to the core purposes of the team is the critical question—especially for those groups in which members are not your direct reports. In that case, members can be caught by divided loyalties between their ongoing assignment "home base" (the source of their identity, formal evaluation, and long-term security) and this new temporary grouping (committee, cross-functional team, task force, or project team; see Table 10.1).

In committees, members usually come as representatives of their home team. They may try to reach agreement, but all work hard to make sure that their area is fairly represented and gains a fair ...

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