Client Question: “I received feedback that I need to use more influence with senior management. How do I do that?”
Being an influencer means that you have the power to affect the decisions of others. The influencer may have real or just perceived authority, knowledge, position, or relationship. Influencers will generally get things done by bringing people over to their way of thinking. They don’t have the direct authority, but they have the perceived authority that helps them win people over. When you are an influencer you listen to people’s viewpoints and acknowledge their opinions. There is no need to coerce or threaten people to get them to align with you.
Here is an example of influence. You are going into a meeting in 2 weeks to convince people that they need to change a policy that has been in place for a long time. How should you prepare for this discussion?
- What is the outcome that you want and are you presenting that clearly?
- Have you thought about all of the objections that you could get to this proposal and are you prepared to address them?
- Are you aware of the communication style that you are using with others? Are you demonstrating confidence when you suggest this change so they will accept your idea? Be aware of what you may also be communicating non-verbally as well.
- Have you garnered support from some of the key stakeholders before you go into the presentation? Identify the key influencers in your organization and ensure that they are already in agreement and on your side before you walk into the meeting. This is one of the most important things that you can do to have success in these types of situations.
These questions can be used in any situation where influence is needed. This may be a situation where you are the influencer, but also in a situation where you are being influenced. What if someone wants you to buy into a decision and you disagree? You will need to be prepared with your own ideas and be able to influence the conversation in go in a different direction.
Practice these skills and start small. Influencing can be used in so many situations. Finding ways to influence a team member or in a group discussion. What worked or what do you need to change? Observe others in your organization that you would say are good at influencing. What can you learn from them? Be clear about the outcome, prepare for the conversation, communicate effectively, and gather support to effectively use influence to your advantage and help the organization get things done in a positive way.