The Power of Positive Influencing
According to the Oxford Dictionaries online, influence means "the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself."
Ultimately in a business sense, to influence others means to be able to get people to do what you need them to do, when you need them to do it. Influencing is where there is an actual change in someone’s thoughts, decisions or, actions as a direct or indirect result of the influencer.
"Influence is our inner ability to lift people up to our perspectives."
Negative Influencing vs Positive Influencing:
The means in which a leader influences others is what makes the difference between positive influencing and negative influencing.
Negative influencing is where the leader gets the employee to do what they want through negative means such as blackmail, bullying, threatening behaviour, peer pressure or manipulation. An example of this is shown below:
"I have a report that I have to get done up by the end of the week for the CEO and I just don't think I'm going to get time to do it. I was thinking that you could write it up for me. I've already spoken to your manager and they are on-board for you to leave what you are doing. If you do a good job I might even be able to put in a recommendation for you with the CEO."
"I may need to talk to my manager about this as she doesn't know about all this work that has come in."
"Well surely it can't be more important that doing something for the CEO! I'm sure he would be pretty disappointed to learn about how unhelpful you are being."
The above example shows Joe using blackmail, manipulation and an implied threat. Whilst this might get the job done for Joe, the cost can be high. Negative influencing has been known to cause damage to workplace relationships, a decrease in employee satisfaction, attribute to a negative workplace culture and foster an environment of control over collaboration.
"The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority."
Positive influencing is when the leader knows how to positively gain buy-in and support from key people through well-established relationships and by being persuasive, inspiring and engaging. An example of this is shown below:
"Hey Bob, I was really impressed with that report that you wrote for Jane last month, it was so well-written! I've been asked to prepare a report for the CEO and it is needed by the end of this week and I was hoping I could get your assistance with it?
"Thanks Joe, I appreciate your feedback. I'm not sure that I will have the time to help you as I'm really swamped with work at the moment."
"I understand totally Bob. Is there something that I can do to lighten the load so you would be able to lend me a hand? For instance, is there something that I can complete for you, or is there something I could get the rest of the team to help with? I really want your expertise on this report and I'm happy for you to help me present this report to the CEO and put your name to it"
"Well I suppose if you could get the team to help out with arranging the next National Managers Meeting it would take enough pressure off to be able to help out."
This more positive approach of collaboration and reciprocal needs being met is going to be a
better long-term solution as it will help to establish better working relationships between these parties. Bob is also being recognised for his expertise and being given a chance to let this shine.
Why is Influencing Important?
Influencing is a key skill that is integral to effective leadership, without knowing how to influence others effectively it would be highly unlikely that anything would ever get done.
Ultimately a leader's role is to assist the organisation in achieving its objectives, but usually this is not the same reason that an employee comes to work. They come to work to pay bills, to have job security etc. A leader must use their influencing skills to bring about a change in mindset, understanding or behaviours to ensure that the organisation's goals are achieved.
There is an abundance of situations in the workplace where leaders may need to use their influencing skills, some of these include:
Ideas and values that don't align to the organisations;
During change management processes;
When sales need to be increased;
When tasks need to be completed;
When communicating a new process, policy or decision;
Whilst gaining support for an idea;
During project type work;
Relationship building; and
Team meetings and presentations.
Influencing is important not just because there are situations such as the above, but also because there is a moral responsibility to ensure any influence is applied correctly and for the right reasons.
Getting Things Done Through Influencing
Persuasion, a key part of influencing, is the act of convincing someone that their position should be changed usually by providing a more compelling, persuasive case to do so.
For example, the manager who persuades a colleague that whilst their idea is sound, useful and appreciated, there is a better option available that is more in line with the required outcome.
But how do you do this?
There are a few keys steps to getting things done through influencing:
Create a positive team culture where there is a real sense of team spirit - one for all and all for one.
Give employees a sense of ownership and responsibility so that they are emotionally attached to the outcome.
Establish an environment of empathy and put yourself in the other person's shoes.
Explain a compelling situation where an agreeable outcome can be obtained.
Acknowledge the contribution of others positively so that they feel like they are adding value.
Persuade subtly to make others feel like they are coming to the conclusion themselves, rather than it being forced upon them.
Thank and show approval for the support provided.
Communicate effectively, paying attention to tone, body language, the words used.
Actively listen to your employees and address any concerns they may have.
Provide incentive where required.
Build enthusiasm and interest for change.
Always encourage an outcomes focussed frame of mind, refer back to this during meetings and when influencing "what is it that we need to achieve and how would this be best achieved?"
Share information with your team and ensure they have the entire context to the situation. Why does something need to be done? Why are you asking for their assistance?
Continually build rapport with others to establish positive and supportive networks.
PDI Solutions can assist with developing and facilitating a customised training program for your organisation to assist with influencing skills or any other leadership function. Contact us today for a free consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at pdisolutions.com.au