Has it ever happened to you that you know exactly what needs to be done, but you just can’t convince your stakeholders?
In today’s world, what often stands between you and your ability to solve a problem is not knowledge or information but your ability to get the buy-in for your idea.
Influence is the ability to steer consensus, bring people from different parts of the organization together, and drive behavior. Given that organizations are flatter, it is no longer a desired soft skill but a critical leadership skill necessary to succeed. It helps you work better with teams, ensures that your voice is heard, and earns you respect. In a nutshell, influence is power.
However, establishing influence has never been as difficult as it is now when most of your colleagues work remotely, and there are more distractions and information overload than ever before.
The primary thing to get right about influence is the mindset about it. Often, when clients engage with me to enhance their influence, they are looking for a state where everything they say is lapped up by everyone and implemented. This may happen in hierarchical structures if you are on the top of the food chain, but this is not effective because –
- Often one is not on the top of the food chain and needs to influence stakeholders who are senior or at the peer level.
- Influence due to hierarchy is temporary if it lacks personal connect.
The valid currency of influence is being able to open the door for conversation, understand perspectives, and co-create solutions.
What are the behaviors that make it possible? Here are some tips –
Develop expertise – Be an expert in your field to increase your influence at work. Position yourself as an expert by developing a deep knowledge of your subject and industry and share your expertise where it matters. Your colleagues will respect you for your knowledge and collaborate with you for the value you add.
Build connections – People like to work with people they know, like, and trust. Building connections means showing interest in colleagues and being transparent and empathetic towards them. Making the time to get to know people you work with, listening to them, seeking their point of view, offering support, and sharing your perspective goes a long way in building rapport and trust with people.
Be reliable – Building influence requires consistency. Be known for walking the talk. Keep your promises, set high standards of behavior for yourself, and clear expectations from your team. People will trust you if you demonstrate consistency in your leadership style, and they will reciprocate by being consistent in their commitments to you.
Make it all about them – If you want to gain the support of others for your project, consider what is in it for them and for the organization and lead with that. Make them a part of the solution by inviting their inputs. If you know the stakeholders you are trying to convince, you know what matters to them. You will have a better chance of success with them if you tailor your conversation to their needs. After all, it is difficult to say no if you are assisting them in reaching their objectives.
Finally, regardless of your position in the organization, influence is a necessary skill for all. Building influence requires a mindset that values collaboration and co-creation rather than control. You can improve your ability to steer consensus, bring people together, and drive behavior by developing expertise, making connections, being reliable, and making it all about others. Remember that influence is not about being at the top of the food chain or being in a position of authority but about opening doors for conversations, understanding different points of view, and working towards common goals.
PS – Looking for help to enhance your influence? Book a pressure free discovery meeting.