In today’s matrix-structured corporate world, ‘influence,’ i.e., your ability to persuade, inspire, and impact others positively, is your most significant power to drive your success.
Sometimes, clients who approach me to enhance their influence aspire that their stakeholders should lap up everything they say and comply with it. However, successful influencing is about making a connection and appealing to the heart as well as the head. It is as much about collaborating and co-creating as it is about convincing.
Here are a few things you can do to make this connection –
- Active listening is a sign of respect. When you give your full attention to someone while engaging with people, they feel valued, and you can tailor the conversation to their needs. By tuning in to them, you benefit from their viewpoints, find common ground, and encourage open and transparent dialogue. It also makes them feel included.
- Appreciate others. Simple everyday acts go a long way in showing appreciation to colleagues, e.g., understanding their goals, concerns, and priorities, recognizing their contribution, knowing their needs, offering help, and being interested in their well-being. It builds trust and rapport and enhances influence.
- Establish authority. Be an expert in your area of work. Invest in yourself to be the best in what you do. Be aware of the latest developments, have a perspective, and share it. You can also blog, write in your company newsletter, speak at conferences, or take a leadership role in relevant professional bodies. Your colleagues will respect 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 and letting them know you builds trust and expands your influence.
- Be reliable. Building influence requires consistency. 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. To gain the support of others for your project, consider what is in it for them and for the organization and lead with that. Invite their input and make them a part of the solution.
- Take lead. Raise your hand and accept responsibility for new projects. Stand up for your values, state your opinions, and set the energy and mood in meetings.
- Be adaptive. Stay open to ideas from others. Being open also means not being attached to your image/role and easily wearing different hats – team player, problem solver, mediator, innovator, etc. This versatility and agility make you resilient and build your aura and influence at the workplace.
To conclude, influence is the ability to open the door for conversation, understand perspectives, and co-create solutions to attain common goals. It is a skill that allows you to bring people together and build consensus. You can improve this skill by learning to connect with the heads and hearts of your colleagues.
PS – What helps you be influential? Do share in the comments.