Following up on my earlier post, the second thing I've seen common to successful UX practitioners:
Wield implicit authority across the org chart. Managers have to get their subordinates to do work -- that's basic. But the most successful people can inspire and convince their peers, clients, and bosses to jump on the bandwagon with them. Implicit authority in the workplace springs from confidence in oneself, and effective communication.
In my career I was slow to realize the importance of this trait. There wasn't a single "eureka" moment of clarity, but at one job, I saw my respect level increase dramatically once I started user testing and presenting results. I quickly went from chasing after coworkers with unsolicited interface tips, to having people come to me every day asking how to solve their user challenges.
It’s particularly important for a user experience professional to have this
kind of influence, since UX is a new discipline in many organizations. A finance person can reasonably expect business processes that will involve them at the right time, but in user experience, often one isn't involved until it's too late (too expensive, too time-consuming) to address an issue.
Unquestionably, it helps to be comfortable and familiar with your coworkers. New managers can start bossing people around on day one, but implicit authority often must be earned through time and trial.
The negative side of wielding implicit authority is people who express too many opinions about areas outside of their responsibilities, or who stridently complain about the same issues repeatedly. These are good ways to get yourself ignored. To successfully promote user experience, start by asking questions and listening.