As a leader, you are in the influence business. People are watching what you do, when you do it, and how you do it. They are listening to what you say, how you say it and when you say it. And that is just part of how you are influencing your team. To be a more effective leader, you must hone your influence skills so that the influence you have leads people in the direction you intend.
While influence is a big skill set and improving your influencing skills can (should?) be a career/life long endeavor, I have three ideas for you today. Each of these keys is both powerful and practical. Each will move the needle, and each can be practiced immediately.
Be Clear on Your Purpose
In a world (and workplace) filled with uncertainty, clarity is powerful and attractive.
There are many historical examples of people being influenced by things that make no sense to an outsider. Often, a big component of the draw to the dangerous decisions people made was the sense of a clear purpose for those activities.
I am not suggesting you will be influencing people to drink poison Kool-Aid, but the same principle, used for valuable purposes, will make you far more influential. Here are three ways you can use this principle:
- Be crystal clear yourself. Know exactly what you are influencing about and why it is important.
- Focus on the purpose. Focus your communication on the why, the big idea. Keeping it about the purpose is more persuasive.
- Help them connect to that purpose. As you share the purpose, help people see the value from their perspective.
Understand Their Perspective
Influence is about helping others decide for themselves.
We often forget this fundamental truth when trying to influence others. We say or think, “Why don’t they get it? Why don’t they see it?” The reason is that you are seeing it from your perspective, not theirs. Influence begins with knowing their frame of reference first. Here are three ways to do that:
- Ask questions. How can you understand their perspective unless you ask them what they are thinking and what is important to them?
- Listen to understand. And if you are going to ask, please listen. The act of listening itself is part of your ability to influence.
- Connect your direction to their current understanding. Once you understand their perspective, build a bridge from their perspective to yours.
People don’t argue with their own discoveries.
Influence is about helping people make up their mind, not coercing them or making them decide. You are leading adults who are used to having free will and making choices. Your desire to influence them related to things at work will be far more successful when you help them conclude for themselves what you have in mind. Here are three steps to creating discovery for others:
- Ask for their desired future. This is one of the specifics to glean with questions. Help others to be clear about what they want – because often they haven’t really thought about it.
- Compare their picture to yours. Often the difference won’t be as big as either of you might think.
- Bridge the gaps. With this clear picture, let them discover a way to bridge the gap. Do all you can to make it their discovery.
Will these ideas alone make you a master influencer? Perhaps not. But applying these ideas will build your skills more quickly than you might imagine.
If you would like to work on your influencing skills and other key principles that will make you a more effective leader, join me for an upcoming From Manager to Remarkable Leader learning experience. This two-day experience will deepen your understanding and broaden your skills to help you lead your team more effectively. Learn more and register here.