Being able to influence others is an important skill for all professionals to have but it can be a difficult skill to learn and an even more difficult one to master. During this blog, I’ll touch upon a few key skills that you need to improve your influencing skills to become a truly effective and succesful leader.
“Without the capacity to influence others, your ability to make what you envision a reality remains elusive because, after all, no one can do it alone,” – George Hallenbeck.
What is influencing?
Let’s start out with the basics: Influencing is all about behaving in a way which encourages other to change (e.g. behaviour, attitude, ways etc). Influencing is not manipulation but it can be perceived as such by those that do not understand the art of influencing. An important element of influencing is empathy and making a connection with others that you’re able to build upon. To influence others you need to identify the personal triggers or connection that you have in common and adapt your style accordingly so that you can have a favourable outcome.
What skills are needed?
Here are a few skills that I think are important for influencing others.
Understanding the organisation:
You need to be able to understand not only how the organisation works but how the organisation operates on a daily basis and how decisions are made. I find it really valuable to listen and talk to key figures within the organisation to see how the organisation functions and performs.
As a leader, you need to make sure that you’re looking at how you can develop your team and build a good working relationship so that as a team you’re able to work together, excel and perform. This is a great negotiation tactic as having a well-oiled team will present a positive attitude towards others.
Regardless of your ability to manage people, if you lack their trust, any attempt to influence others will be much harder or impossible to achieve. I find trust one of the key pillars of being an effective leader but it’s very important for influencing others as if you have someone’s trust, influencing can be a lot easier to achieve.
I feel that networking is a really important aspect of all attempts at influencing. This is not just about making a connection but building and creating a rapport with others to be able to create a meaningful connection and working relationship. I do this by investing time in my network and the business relationships that exist. I find it of critical importance to be honest and sincere as I’ve found that people can “sense” if you are not being open with them.
A great way to influence others is to mirror and understand their body language and cues and to not try and influence by being hostile /overbearing. You can also use your own body language and speech to reflect their language/tone. I try to adjust my tone and language to assist the nature of what I’m trying to achieve. Using appropriate language can help influence others that you are knowledgeable about the topic.
Invest your time in relationships
Influencing is an art that does not happen overnight and it does not come naturally to everyone. Take the time to invest in your relationships and look at what you can do for them as well as what they are able to do for you.
Plan it right:
There is absolutely no use in trying to influence someone who is stressed and unable to fully listen to what you’re saying. You need to manage your timing accordingly and devote the necessary time to achieve the task of influencing. This means that it shouldn’t be something you rush or you risk damaging your relationship and not achieving the goal. If needs be, delay the discussion or try it at a different (more appropriate) time.
I find influencing effectively to be an art. You need to try and see what works for you/your team and adjust your style accordingly. There will be times when it does not work or does not being the outcome that you’d like but even small wins/opportunities can set you on the right path for success.