How good are you at influence? Did you know that you don’t have to have a million followers on Instagram to have influence?
In today’s hyper-connected world, we tend to think of influence in terms of these very visible, persuasive, and popular personas. But having influence with those around us is usually much more important to our careers than having a thousand likes and reshares on social media.
As human beings we are drawn to people who exhibit influence. They command our attention because they can accomplish a lot without coercion or force. Great leaders have influence.
The need to influence comes at you many times during the course of a workday. Influence is a key part of getting anything done. How can you approach these day-to-day opportunities in a way that enhances, instead of depleting, your level of influence? Using a combination of tactical influence and relationship-based strategies is key.
Embrace a mindset of resilient adaptability and following these 7 key pieces of advice.
- Courageously 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. Alienating stakeholders, decision-makers, or potential allies just to win a small battle – could lose you the war.
- Earn some capital
Execute. Execute. Execute. Be the person your bosses 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 impacts you make to the success of your team and organization.
- 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.
- 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.
- Create allies
Build connections of influence. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Influence is one of the most important skills you need to develop as a leader. Begin with how you approach these daily opportunities. You’ll gain a strong batting average of effectiveness in your work and can be well positioned to move your career ahead. And when you announce that promotion on LinkedIn – then you can enjoy the likes and shares.