How to Find and Engage Authentic Informal Leaders

It is crucial to deploy authentic informal leaders (AILs). As the acronym suggests, AILs are not people in your organization who have been endowed with formal authority by title or by memo. Rather, they possess and exhibit certain leadership strengths such as the ability to do something important well and showing others how to do it (exemplars), or they demonstrate the skill of connecting people across the organization (networkers). Some AILs influence behavior by being the first to understand the value of a new trend (early adopters) or by instinctively associating peers’ positive feelings with day-to-day activities (pride builders). These strengths — which my colleagues at the Katzenbach Center and I refer to as “spikes” — can make AILs powerful allies in any transformation effort.

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