Building your influence as a Leader

For individuals wanting to develop their leadership skills

Techniques for Influencing and Persuading Others

Effective use of influence and persuasion will help you build trusting and respectful relationships.

Using Influence

 

As a leader, your job is to achieve organizational goals, but you can't do this by yourself. You need the help of others in your organization. You may have good ideas, but you can't force people to embrace them.

 

Effective use of influence and persuasion will help you build trusting and respectful relationships. And in turn, you'll be better able to secure support for your ideas and lead successfully through change.

Neither influence nor persuasion involves overpowering, bullying,

pushing, or coercing to get what you want.

Together with exchanges, they're used to inspire, motivate,

resolve conflicts, sell ideas, change values, establish vision, and

educate and empower others.

Keys to Influencing Effectively

Communication – As a leader, your communication skills impact your ability to influence

others. The key to successful persuasion is to show how the achievement of what you want will also help others achieve something they want. In this way, the purpose, goal, or objective becomes a common one.

Personal power – As a leader, your personal power is derived from a combination of your knowledge, abilities, and skills, as well as from your character and personality. These are the assets you can draw on in your leadership role. 

 

Credibility – Your influence is also based on your credibility, which is derived from approaches and values like focus,  flexibility, fairness, accountability, approachability, and honesty. When others know that you exhibit these attributes and apply them consistently, you build your credibility.

Leaders with good communication skills, strong personal power, and credibility will have more influence.

 

But leaders also have another important source of power – position power, – which is derived from their role within their organization. Leaders are likely to have four sources of position power in common:

- Formal authority

- Control over hard rewards, such as promotions

- Control of the flow of information

- The ability to reduce uncertainty about the future of the organization, and individuals or groups within the organization

Note: Avoid using position power. Influence is more useful.

Techniques for Influencing Others

In your leadership role, influence is more important than power. Techniques that can help you influence others include asking for what you want, customizing the message, using questions, acknowledging opposing perspectives but moving on, using logic and evidence, and providing options that people can agree to without compromising their position or dignity.

ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT

- Be careful.

- Clearly define what you want and why

- Then develop an objective to help ask for what you want.

 

E.g. "I am developing a prototype and need your engineering talent to make it operational" - Or  "I need $20,000 to implement this system. Can you back me up financially?"

CUSTOMIZING THE MESSAGE TO APPEAL TO THE PERSON YOU NEED TO INFLUENCE

- Appeal to the person you need to influence.

- To target your message effectively you need to know:

  • The person's interests.

  • The person's agenda.

  • What's important to them.

- WIFM – what's in it for me?

- Choose an appropriate format.

 

E.g. "Because this affects you, you will be pleased to know that the procedure will generate a log, allowing you to trace activity." - Or "As head of research, you may be interested to know that the government is generously funding innovation in this field"

USING QUESTIONS

- Open-ended questions:

  • Are used to gain information

  • Encourage discussion

- Closed-ended questions:

  • Require a definite answer

  • Are good for obtaining agreement

 

E.g. "Are you satisfied with that solution?" - Or - "What is it that makes you hesitate?"

ACKNOWLEDGING OPPOSING PERSPECTIVES

- Keep an open mind.

- Acknowledge, but move forward.

E.g. "I agree. However, reframed as an opportunity to fill a niche market, how does it look?" - Or - "You're right. But what about its potential as an incentive to perform?"

USING LOGIC AND EVIDENCE

- Helps prove your position is valid.

- Can persuade and help combat skepticism.

- Logic and evidence are hard to argue with.

 

E.g. "Recent polls show a shift in opinion. If we can act now, we can grab significant market share" - Or - "Our managers say the trial group got terrific results and embraced this procedure, so why not implement it throughout the company?"

PROVIDING OPTIONS THAT PEOPLE CAN AGREE TO WITHOUT COMPROMISING THEIR POSITION OR DIGNITY

- Useful way to influence a stakeholder who is resistant.

- Provides a way for people to commit without losing face.

​E.g. "I have revised the plan to include a server, and you can take the lead on implementing it" - Or - "You've been pretty frank with your objections, but I think I have a way we can all get what we want".

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TAKE AWAY

  • Influence is the ability to move people toward the achievement of specific outcomes. Your ability to influence others will impact your capabilities as a leader.

  • Successful leaders are great communicators, have built relationships on respect, and derive the power to influence from the credibility they've established based on example and experience.

  • Six techniques can help you influence others and gain their support – 1) Asking for what you want, 2) Customizing the message, 3) Using questions, 4) Acknowledging opposing perspectives but moving on, 5) Using logic and evidence, and 6) Providing options that people can agree to without compromising their position or dignity.