Are You Brave Enough To Teach Leaders To Not Treat Everyone Equally?

Kris Dunn Always Be Closing, Audacious Ideas, Culture, FOT Reads, HR, HR (& Life!) Advice, Influence, Kris Dunn, Learning, Learning and Development

Leadership slang time, people. Let’s give you a term you can text your fellow HR/Talent pros in response to hearing that they’re stuck in a time-suck they shouldn’t be in.

The term/acronym? NINA. “No Influence, No Authority.

NINA refers to people who really can’t get things done in an organization, and it’s position/situation specific. Consider the following:

– Authority is downward sloping. People with authority can help you get things done. It’s what the org chart is there to do. High authority, no influence people help you get things done according the org chart and should be treated as such.

– Influence moves every direction in an organization. People with influence (power regardless of what the org chart says) can help you get things done or are good to help because they can help you in the future in variety of ways. High Influence, Low Authority people move in ways not captured by the org chart. They usually can influence both up and down the org chart from where they are.

The trick is to prioritize discretionary effort as an leader according to the tag related to NINA. To be sure, you’re always going to have transactional-type tasks that you’re going to knock out for people of all classifications in the NINA chain. But when it comes to where you spend your voluntary time—which is critical for your career—you should probably prioritize who you hang out with and work with on discretionary projects according to the following:

1. High Influence, High Authority. Spend as much of your time as you can with these folks.

2. High Influence, No Authority*. Split your initial time with this group and group #3, until you find out the qualifier note in the (*) below.

3. No Influence, High Authority*. Split your initial time with this group and group #2, until you find out the qualifier note in the (*) below.

4. No Influence, No Authority (NINA). Serve this group, but try to minimize project time you spend here.

Note* Spend the same amount of time with the groups identified in #2 and #3 until you see where the real power and juice is. Is it in the org chart or in who the true players are regardless of what the org chart says? If the latter, you should adjust the 50/50 accordingly.

If it sounds Machiavellian, it is. But it’s essential to managing your career as a leader or a future leader, especially in big organizations. Text NINA to a friend as a reminder the next time they’re caught in a voluntary time-suck they shouldn’t be in.

And if you’re really brave, talk about the practical applications of this reality in your leadership development programs.

FOT Note: This rant is brought to you by the good folks at Meridian, who like us enough to be an annual sponsor at FOT for all content in our learning and development track (and don’t expect that we run any of this by them ahead of time). They’re also up for having fun to the extent that they’re sponsoring the Learning and Development Hangout Series. Check it out!

Kris Dunn

Kris Dunn is a Partner and CHRO at Kinetix, a national RPO firm for growth companies headquartered in Atlanta. He’s also the founder Fistful of Talent (founded in 2008) and The HR Capitalist (2007) – and has written over 70 feature columns at Workforce Management magazine. Prior to his investment at Kinetix, Kris served in HR leadership roles at DAXKO, Charter and Cingular. In his spare time, KD hits the road as a speaker and gives the world what it needs – pop culture references linked to Human Capital street smarts.