Your ability to lead, motivate and inspire is dependent on how effectively you influence. Influence is one of the most powerful skills you can have. It can impact your career opportunities and success, personal as well as business relationships, and ultimately, your financial rewards. If that isn’t enough to peak your interest then perhaps nothing will!
Like many other leadership skills, the ability to influence isn’t automatic due to your position or role, nor is it inherent. The ability to influence can be learned and developed with practice, and well worth the effort when you consider the potential benefits. Influencing doesn’t only happen downwards, you may also need to influence your own leaders to increase budgets, approve projects, or your peers to assist you in sharing knowledge or resources. It’s not hard to see why this is a skill worth doing and doing well if you want to make things happen at all levels.
“The key to successful leadership today is influence not authority” – Kenneth Blanchard
Communication skills, and in particular listening are the building blocks to successful influencing. Combined with self-confidence and a thorough knowledge of your subject area or product, and an unfailing belief in what you are trying to achieve are essential. You can’t ‘sell’ anything well that you don’t believe in, know enough about or when you yourself lack self-belief.
In the simplest terms, influence means to effect change in a person’s behaviour by changing their attitude, opinion or point of view and inspire some kind of action as a result. As a business leader you want your team to work smarter, or faster, or more creatively or longer or just plain harder, but before you can achieve any change you must first understand their current perspective. Listen to what is said as well as what is not, watch for visual and non-verbal cues, and be present in the moment instead of framing the next question before the current has been answered. Active listening and real interest is the starting point that shows those you lead that you actually care. You can’t expect anyone you lead to care about your goals and expectations if you don’t care about theirs.
“I hold that a strongly marked personality can influence descendants for generations.”
― Beatrix Potter
Focus on the other person and offer some kind of gift, kindness or reward up front in the spirit of reciprocity and this will also increase your influence. Being generous with your time, skills, knowledge in a genuine way will engage others and inspire action as well as a desire to return the favour in the direction you have inspired. That’s what happens when influence and leadership are combined.
Whether you are an executive in a large company working to reach your highest potential, or a small business owner working alone or in a team, we would love to assist you to practice and develop your unique influencing style. Contact us to talk about tailoring a solution that is as individual as you are.