The topic of influence often comes up during many of the discussions in my leadership workshops. Both team leaders and team members want to feel heard and want to impact the direction a team chooses. This week in my program we focused on how to be more influential without necessarily having a title or position. We began the day by answering the question:
“Who has been influential to you in your life and what made them influential?”
The responses were fascinating:
“My mom has been the biggest influence on me. She is the strongest person I know and always stays positive.”
“My boss in my last job was highly influential for me. Through his patience, he taught me all the technical pieces of the job. He never lost his cool.”
“My tenth grade English teacher had a profound influence on me. She helped me break out of my introverted shell and got me involved in the school newspaper and writing.”
So who has been the most influential person in your life?
To be strong leaders we need to understand how we influence others and how other people see us. It helps to have a working definition of influence.
Influence is the ability to persuade someone to act or to think the way you want.
Here are five influential strategies to try:
1. BE AUTHENTIC AND HONEST
There is no way we can be influential without following through on what we say we are going to do.
- If we say we will help out on a project, make sure to set time aside to do it
- When we offer suggestions, be truthful in what your ideas are all about
- Avoid a hidden agenda
- Giving truthful feedback and opinions goes a far way to showing others that we care
2. SWITCH THE FOCUS FROM YOU TO THEM
When we speak with others, think about what is important to them. That does not mean we shouldn’t promote our ideas but rather think of how our strategies can solve their issues. Ask how we can help them improve their challenges using some of our techniques. People are turned off to a pushy salesperson but will listen to someone who they perceive cares about their needs. For example, if a team member is struggling to complete a technical assignment and we know a better way to approach it, offer your idea in terms of “something that may be helpful”. Never say, “You’re doing it wrong.” No team member will ever listen to that phrase or anything else we have to say.
3. SHARE YOUR STRENGTHS AND EXPERTISE
We gain influence when we have knowledge and experience to share.
- Become the “go-to” person in a particular area for your team, colleagues or organization
- Be generous but not arrogant in how you offer your information
- Promote your perspectives through interesting storytelling
- Empower the “expert” inside of you by continually learning and growing
4. BRAINSTORM SOLUTIONS
When we lead by bringing people and their ideas together, we become more influential. Leaders who are effective in pulling together many possible solutions to a problem will influence through the final decision. The important skill here is knowing how to lead a collaboration where everybody feels part of the end result.
5. MATCH YOUR BODY WITH YOUR MESSAGE
An important way we also influence is though our non-verbal cues. Essential to making our point, is the ability to match our body movements, hand gestures and facial expressions with our message. Confidence plays a big factor in being influential and we display this through our tone, smile and posture. The next time you observe an influential person, take note of their body and how it complements their words.
How have you become an influential leader? What have you done to make a difference in someone else’s life?
Let’s connect if you are interested in learning how to be more influential.
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