Lists of the most influential people in the world are published in magazines such as Time, Esquire, People and others. These influencers command a lot of attention and often gain our admiration for what they accomplish. Influential leaders take on some of the biggest challenges in the world. They often stand up against the status quo in order to make a difference.
The need to influence comes at you many times during the course of your work day. Whether trying to influence others on a specific project or idea, or you wish to become known as an influential person, gaining influence takes intentional focus and a strategic approach.
What can we learn from these influential leaders to become stronger influencers ourselves? Following are seven strategies you can add to your leader toolkit to give you more influence.
1. Pick your battles
Champion business challenges and opportunities that need new solutions and ideas. Where can you make a difference? You may not have a popular opinion, but it may need to be addressed. Sometimes people are unwilling to face the elephant in the room. Don’t be afraid to stand up and speak up for what you believe in. However, be very strategic about your approach.
2. Earn some capital
Execute. Execute. Execute. Be the person leaders can count on to get the job done. Deliver on areas that matter to the business. Make sure others are aware of your contributions and the impact you made on the organization.
3. Be credible
Be intentional about building a track record of execution and wins. People will follow those whom they trust and respect. You have to earn that. Do what you say you’re going to do. Even if you make a mistake or something doesn’t go quite the way you planned, own it. Ensure you learn from the experience so that you don’t make the same mistake again and again.
4. Build your case
Do your research. Gather the facts and data to build a credible case. Connect your objectives and outcomes to the goals of the business. Obtain some history so that you can anticipate the objections and avoid repeating prior mistakes. Carefully assess and communicate the consequences if your recommendations are not taken. Objectively weigh your recommendations against other possible solutions. Remove your personal emotion and make the best decision for the business.
5. Create allies
Build connections. You build influence way before you need to use it. You can’t wait until you want something, ask for it and then expect to get it if there’s no prior connection. You always need to be assessing who your strategic relationships need to be. Earn allies as you work with people both inside and outside the organization. What can you do to assist others first? Be respectful. Follow the Golden Rule. Always be a person of integrity.
6. Engage your allies
Engage allies of influence. You may have an easier time selling your allies on your position first. Engaging allies early on will help demonstrate support for your ideas. They also will be able to influence other relationships that can help you gain momentum. Often an effective strategy is to make allies of the persons you’re trying to influence. Engage them in coming up with other ideas and solutions.
7. Communicate WIIFM (What’s In It For Me)
Our human nature is to be interested when there’s “something in it for me.” Take the time to listen and learn about what is important to the individuals involved so that you can respond in that manner. Demonstrate a direct benefit for them and the business based on your recommendations. This demonstrates that you are concerned about more than just yourself.
You won’t be successful at your attempts to influence 100 percent of the time. But, you’ve got to have a strong batting average in order to be effective in your work and to move your career ahead. Maybe some day, we’ll see your picture among the most influential in the world.
Thanks to Cynthia L. for submitting this question.