When was the last time you thought about how you influence others; or how others influence you? No matter how important or hardworking we are, we cannot succeed without the help, cooperation and guidance of others.
The ability to influence, with a positive impact, is one of the most challenging skills for business leaders at all levels, and as we keep pace in an ever changing world, it matters greatly. It is something we have to develop ourselves, learn to build collaboratively and encourage to grow purposefully. You don’t need to be in a formal leadership position to practice and apply these qualities. There’s a demand for leadership skills at every level throughout an organisation and businesses must be set and geared up to ensure they have trustworthy, capable and confident leaders in place, who are able to steer them through the future head on. Whatever that may hold.
There are ways to positively influence others in the workplace but the question we need to ask ourselves first, is not whether you believe you are an influencer, but rather do you influence others in a positive or negative way? We have the ability to do both and frequently the choice is ours.
What is important to recognise early in a business relationship or conversation, is that the manner in which we influence does have an impact on our results. If you choose to influence others through manipulation, over time you will simply lose the trust of your team or managers. If, however, you influence others through skilled collaboration, you will gain trust and respect which will add value to your business…and your life.
Whether starting at a new company, in a new role or simply taking on more responsibility, most of us want to start on the right foot and make the right impression. These three simple steps, applied to your daily working methods, will improve your influence in the workplace and ultimately have an impact on your business – applied in the same manner, they will also have a positive impact on your relationships with friends, partners, children and others:
LISTEN - sometimes you need to listen carefully to those you wish to influence - conversations, meetings, opinions, thoughts, ideas – to clearly understand what someone is saying. Why are they saying what they say? Why do they see things the way they do? Strong influencers ask more questions to create further understanding. They listen to everyone's voice, and encourage people to speak up, especially those who don’t always share their thoughts or are too shy to shout the loudest. Encourage conversations and take time to listen, respect and acknowledge everybody's beliefs, not just your own, and let people know that you value them and their opinions. It is much easier and more credible to positively influence in an environment of mutual respect and mutual trust, and combined this will encourage mutual teamwork which impacts both your business and your bottom line.
BE INTERESTED – everyone wants to have influence; not everyone wants to build the relationships that enable it. There's a natural flow to being influential but it must be genuine and honest and without judgement. Tell a story, ask a favour or be emotionally curious to your team’s needs, ambitions and suggestions. By putting their interests first, you eventually make work easier on yourself too. The best influencers are always talking to their teams, they care and they keep in touch on a personal level, taking a personal interest. Most importantly they pay attention, so they know how to make it worth their while, when it’s time to push harder or when it’s time to pull back. Superior influencers see what others don’t because they look for it; their interest in people helps them find their underlying abilities, helping them perform better. And they reap the rewards as a result.
CREDIBILITY - you need to have a sound and solid foundation of credibility to be an effective influencer. Think how credible you are to a person or situation. Be aware that you are always being scrutinised, and female leaders are scrutinised more than men; look at your management style, look at the situation and look at the people involved – there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach! Do you tend to have the same approach to every situation or individual? Your approach must be interchangeable in order to be more effective as you interact with those around you. Trust is an essential asset and once you have built your capability and confidence, earned the respect of your team and external stakeholders, then you will achieve what you say you will. Only then will your influence count.
How do you test the impact of your influence? What makes a successful influencer in your eyes?
Let me know!
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