By Teresa Shaffer, CEC, CPC, RN, www.shafferexecutivecoaching.com
Today’s organizations are filled with great complexity, undergo rapid change, and have a wide array of workplace cultures and team dynamics. Leaders are expected to influence many people in order to create effective change and deliver better results, all while inspiring and empowering others. Influential leaders are those who can garner help from enough people throughout the organization to achieve or exceed shared goals.
Here are seven steps you can take to elevate your influence:
- BUILD AUTHENTIC RELATIONSHIPS.
The ability to build strong relationships with peers, employees, stakeholders, and others is vital to increasing your influence. Step into other people’s shoes to understand their talents, goals, and pressures by asking great questions and listening deeply. Foster meaningful relationships by genuinely caring about others, adding value to their lives, and helping them succeed.
- DEMONSTRATE IMPECCABLE CHARACTER.
Strong leaders have strong character and can inspire trust. Influence begins with trust, and it affects a leader’s influence enormously. Trust begins with building credibility. Define your values such as courage, honesty, loyalty, and integrity, and align your behaviors with these values. Demonstrate respect. Keep commitments.
- INSPIRE OTHERS TO WANT TO DO THE WORK.
One way to influence a person is to link what you want with reasons and interests that matter to the other person and explain the win for them personally and for the business. Always show your gratitude for people’s help, acknowledge contributions, and celebrate victories.
- PLAN AN INFLUENCE CAMPAIGN.
Who are the key people involved in the decision? How much does each person support the idea? Do enough people with enough power support the idea? Success depends on assessing the situation in advance, mapping out the terrain, assembling the right people, and setting specific and measurable goals.
- FOSTER COLLABORATION.
Organizations are becoming less bureaucratic and more collaborative. Influential leaders build coalitions that have a variety of expertise, share responsibility, and decide on important matters collectively. This kind of collaboration empowers the group and benefits individuals and the organization.
- CLEARLY ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT.
Make the case, give reasons, and ideally communicate a mutual desired outcome; this helps motivate people to act. Don’t assume that those listening to you heard correctly; verify that you’re all on the same page through back-and-forth dialogue. Effective leaders communicate openly and frequently.
- EXPERIMENT WITH DIFFERENT APPROACHES.
You might succeed, or you might fail when attempting to influence another person. If you fail, you can consider adjusting your style or trying a different approach. When it comes to influence, there are no guarantees. Learn to do it better next time, and keep moving forward.
The most influential leaders collaborate, connect, empower, persuade, and help others succeed. They create win-win solutions, drive better business results, and strengthen the organization.
How might you put one of these influence steps into practice today?