Just as you don’t have to hold the title to be leader, you don’t have to hold an important role to influence others. In today’s workplace where collaboration is key, the ability to influence actions and decisions is vital. It can make the difference between getting the job done right or not at all.
The power of influence
While people will do as they are told be those in positions of authority, they will work better and with more commitment when their emotions are involved. Neuroscience has proven that people make decisions based on emotion, although they may justify it later using logic. Authority doesn’t tap into emotion (not the kind you’re looking for, anyway) but influence does. If you can influence someone towards a positive action or attitude, you’re halfway to getting the job done.
3 strategies for building your influence.
Each of these strategies meets an emotional need in the person you wish to influence.
Understand first, influence later. You can’t influence someone if you don’t know what drives them. Take the time to get to know the people you work with. Understand what matters to them. Look for some common ground where you can establish a connection. Offer your help when you can. Not only will it move the project forward but it will prove that you’re interested in the other person. Invite people to collaborate with you. Working jointly increases their motivation and engagement in the task and cements a partnership between you. When you establish a connection, you will begin to see how you can influence. Remember, it’s not about control; it’s about engagement.
You’ve established a connection, now build a relationship. Influence born of casual connections is weak and won’t last. To be a powerful and lasting influencer, you need to create solid relationships. Look beyond your team and start getting to know your leaders, your network, your stakeholders. You are more likely to be heard if you influence as a friend, not as a person who wants something.
Prove your expertise.
Do you really know what you’re talking about? Are you credible? Of course, you are! Now you need to prove it. Share your experience and ideas. Share your stories of similar situations. Admit when you don’t have an answer – be honest. Prove yourself by helping others and sharing solutions. Coach your co-workers and let them enjoy success. Keep your eye on the big picture so you can explain the ‘why’ behind the work and put it into context. If you present as confident and capable, people are more likely to listen to what you say.
Your ability to influence without authority relies on your honesty, interpersonal skills and your credibility. These are critical leadership skills that we develop and perfect in our Athena Leadership Academy Workshops. You don’t have to be a leader to benefit from the skills in these workshops and your career will certainly benefit. Find out more today.