Some people have it. Others want it. Still others want to know the recipe or secret of it. It’s influence, and I’m learning more and more about parts of how people use influence in an ethical manner. Each time we exert leadership, we exert influence. All too frequently, however, people revert to the command authority model of influence. Think of a variation of “Because I said so,” or “Because I’m the boss.” There may be instances where you need to use this tool, but I’ll suggest that there are issues with using a variation of that phrase with with any frequency. Why?
1-It’s overused. You may or may not be the boss, but if this is the only tool you have, you will run headlong into a wall when you are working with people who do not report to you.
2-It’s not effective. You may get passive compliance, but that is about all you can expect.
So what seems to work? I have come across four ideas and themes that have come from both watching and listening to people who are effective influencers, as well as reading some books and articles from some VERY smart people. Here is an incomplete list of four points that can help deepen your influence as an ethical leader.
A-Determine what you want to achieve. I’ve written on this before, but it bears repeating. If you know what you want to achieve, you have the end result in mind. You can then look for ways to move toward that goal.
B-Seek opportunities to advance your goals. The verb “seek” is important. You are actively looking for ways, large and small, to move your agenda forward.
C-Give frequently. Bob Cialdini, an expert in influence, outlines the principle of reciprocity. People repay what you give. So find ways to give, give, and give even more. Giving makes you feel good, helps those to whom you give (assuming that what you give is something they want), and it deepens the relationship.
D-Relationships matter (a LOT). I learned this from a senior leader who told me, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” If you come in each meeting with an alpha dog mentality, you will turn off a large number of potential allies who can help you move your agenda forward.
What have you seen effective leaders do who are effective at influencing others?
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