Successful leadership requires influence. Without it, how will you make your mark on your organization and your team? Influencing is about engaging others in your vision—helping to build a coalition of support for your ideas and goals. It’s about understanding how to embrace your point of view and your power to make a difference in your team and business. It requires confidence, courage, and a fair amount of finesse.
Before we dive into influence, consider the following questions: Who has influenced you in your life or career? How did they do it? Was it effective? Why or why not? Why do you want to be more influential?
Was your example positive? Most times, it is. We remember those who made a positive impact on us, who influenced in a helpful or inspiring way. But influence can be exerted as a form of pressure as well, we can be manipulated (knowingly or unknowingly). To be clear on how we are going to explore influence, let’s define terms.
Words from dictionary.com:
- Pressure: To force (someone) toward a particular end.
- Manipulate: To manage or influence skillfully, especially in an unfair manner.
- Influence: The capacity or power of person or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the action, behaviors, opinions, etc. of others.
3 Ways to Appeal (from the Center for Creative Leadership)
Logical Appeal: Using the Head
Appealing to logic means tapping into the rational and intellectual elements of your position. This strategy requires sound thinking, and a structured approach to moving through one thought to another.
To be successful:
- Take time to gather the appropriate facts and data to support your position
- Prepare a well thought out plan to support your point of view
- Point out the advantages of your ideas, while also articulating how you will manage risks associated with it
- Systematically compare other options to show the benefits of your approach
- Be able to articulate the outcome if your approach is not adopted
- Strengthen your perspective by weaving in information from other authoritative sources if appropriate
Emotional Appeal: Using the Heart
Focusing on the heart means tapping into emotions. Using the heart means you are promoting feelings to craft your message towards a common vision or goals, appealing to another persons needs and wants as well as your own.
To be successful:
- Understand that humans are motivated by pleasure and pain, both of these can be used for an appeal to others
- Tailor your approach to the needs and values of others
- Listen in a way that conveys caring and concern
- Paint a picture of your solution, engage the 5 senses when possible
- Integrate story telling to strengthen your message; help others to see how they fit into the story
- Present ideas in a way that inspires and builds pride
- Appeal to common values, such as concern for customers, fairness, loyalty, honesty, etc.
Collaborative Appeal: Using Cooperation
Collaboration relies on the process of working together to accomplish a mutually important goal. This approach is founded on the premise that we value being asked for our opinions, to have a stake in our future.
It requires balance in advocating for self-interests versus the interests of the group, knowing that you will achieve more buy in and engagement through the cooperative process and experience. It also means driving collaborative and constructive behaviors, where vulnerability, honesty and assertiveness are modelled and rewarded.
To be successful:
- Set the stage by clearing articulating goals and expected outcomes
- Explain parameters around what is negotiable and what is not
- Share your ideas in an engaging and interesting manner, demonstrate self confidence
- Identify people’s concerns and values, get them out into the open
- Apply organizational knowledge to engage others who can influence on your behalf (especially peers or those above your level)
- Be willing to adapt your ideas by accepting suggestions from others
- Use liberal (sincere) praise and reinforcement for cooperative and collaborative efforts both publicly and privately
- Strengthen your connections
- Be credible, do your homework, know your subject and your audience
- Maintain high integrity
- People tend to be influenced most by those that are “likeable”
- Demonstrate warmth and likeability
- Use a planful approach, considering:
- What you want to accomplish
- Why it’s important
- Uncover your challenges and how you will mitigate them
- Know your stakeholders: their point of view, the most effective strategy to appeal to them
- Use excellent communication skills
- Decide how to receive a “no”