Grow Your Influence, Grow Your Leadership
Power in organizations typically comes from two major sources: position power (direct) or influence power (indirect).
Position power is normally hierarchical. It is derived from title, responsibility and authority assigned by place in the organizational structure. Position power also includes budget authority, which enables leaders to fund key initiatives that they and their enterprise value.
Influence power, however, can be derived from many factors: being a subject matter expert; being a project leader; having key relationships; or possessing unique knowledge, skills, or abilities that others in the organization value.
Influencers stand out in any setting. They are likely to be tapped to play a lead role on critical teams, report out to senior management on project updates, and, often, are considered as ready for promotional opportunities or stretch assignments. They establish relationships quickly, work well with others and are respected.
The quickest route to positions with direct authority is often given to those who are already demonstrating influential leadership even though they don’t have the title or authority.
For those who want to grow their influence or be considered for promotion, the good news is that the hallmark traits of influencers can be learned and honed.
Six ways to grow your influence and be seen as someone capable of more include:
- Serve a need. Volunteer to be on a work team, employee engagement initiative or other area of interest to you that plays to your strengths, values or passions. Enthusiasm for your areas of interest generates momentum and allows others to see your positive influence in action. Volunteering in areas that need staffing also demonstrates proactive behavior that leadership appreciates.
- Take initiative. When there is an opportunity to make things better at work, a common reaction is for people to wonder why management isn’t doing something about it. Don’t jump on this bandwagon. Instead, take initiative and generate ideas with others about ways to improve. Bring these to management, giving credit to others where it’s due. Ideas that streamline work processes, improve quality, increase customer satisfaction, or lower costs are great areas to start. Taking initiative is valued and demonstrates influence.
- Listen more. You gain significant connection with others by listening to understand. When people are heard and understood, they feel valued and respected. It’s not about agreeing with everything said, it’s about hearing others. Deeper listening allows you to find common ground and build upon ideas produced. Great listeners avoid getting into a right versus wrong mindset; they are curious, mindful not to argue and appreciative of shared perspectives.
- Be positive. People like interacting with others who are authentically optimistic and let their good intentions shine through. Individuals who radiate positive energy make work easier for those with whom they interact. They tend to provide perspectives that lead to goal achievement or make the best of a bad situation. Positive people also build up others and avoid sarcasm.
- Act inclusively. Influencers understand that achieving the best outcome is a function of greater involvement and engagement. This happens when everyone feels their contributions are welcome and their voices heard. Increase participation by asking for additional ideas and encouraging team members to build on the ideas brought forward. Inclusive leaders include others and emphasize that their input in developing solutions is vital.
- Know your audience. Influencing others also means knowing how best to speak and interact with others. Successful influencers collaborate with others and foster group ownership for ideas that are generated through teamwork. Further, when presenting ideas to leadership, they understand the need to be succinct. They highlight the benefits of a proposal and quickly demonstrate its advantages compared to competitive offerings. People who interact effectively with different audiences demonstrate influence and situational leadership skills.
Developing these six traits improves the perception of your influence power. Being valued in this capacity demonstrates your readiness for position power.
How can executive coaching help you improve your influencing skills to grow your career?
Lance Hazzard, PCC, CPCC, is an Executive Team Coach and a certified Intelligent Leadership Executive Coach helping people and organizations achieve success. Lance and Eric T. Hicks, Ph.D., co-authored Accelerating Leadership, published in June 2019. Lance is Executive Coach and President at Oppnå® Executive & Achievement Coaching. More information on the book, Lance and Oppnå® Coaching can be found at the links below: