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Influence Without Authority, 3rd Edition by David L. Bradford, Allan R. Cohen

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

The Challenge of Gaining Commitment

Managing task forces and cross-functional teams is one area where having only limited authority frustrates many. 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 when you are in charge of your own team of direct reports, getting full cooperation isn't automatic. As the boss, you can push people hard if they aren't fully engaged, but gaining full commitment can still be challenging. If team members do not report to you, the challenge is that much greater.

The critical question is how to gain genuine commitment to the team's core purposes—especially from groups whose members are not your direct reports. In that case, members can be caught by divided loyalties between ongoing assignments in their “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).

Table 10.1 Percentage of Commitment between Home Assignment and New Grouping

(Home Group:New Team %)
Committees Matrix Teams Task Forces, Cross-Functional Teams

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