Many managers ask me, “How can I get things done when so many of my stakeholders think differently than I do? This is the question you will need to address if you want to achieve results.
If you want to be successful you will need to learn to influence others who think differently than you do. The ability to influence others over whom you have no authority is key to your ability to produce results. I find that this is one of the most important practices that I teach in my leadership courses and reinforce with coaching clients.
Research findings on Influence. When I was a director of research at The Forum Corporation I conducted a study of hundreds of managers in multi-national organizations who were effective at influencing colleagues over whom they had no direct authority.*
The study found that people are effective at influencing when they are:
- Competent: Demonstrating credibility through competence and integrity;
- Collaborative: Being open to others’ thinking in making decisions; and
- Humble: Admitting their mistakes and doubts.
This is contrary to the common view that sees being influential as being expert or persuasive. People with knowledge and expertise do not always have the skills needed to influence others.
To be influential, one has to demonstrate that ability to listen to and work with others in a collaborative way. Being humble and not insisting on your viewpoint are keys to building trust. Saying “I don’t know” or “you could be right” are ways to demonstrate that you are open to other points of view.
Tip: Admitting your mistakes and uncertainties — while demonstrating competence and staying true to your commitments — ensures that others will trust that you are serious about learning and about finding the best way forward (not just your way).
In times of change, people follow those that they trust. To “trust” is to rely on another’s integrity, ability, and character. Trust takes time to build, and once broken is difficult to restore.
- Is there something I need to accomplish that requires me to influence others over whom I have no direct authority?
- Have I shown that I am willing to collaborate with others to get to the best solution?
- What can I do to demonstrate my own willingness to learn from others?
You see – its all about the “others”!
Would you like to be a more effective influencer? Write to me to learn how a 3-part individualized coaching package for effective influence can help you to get the results you want. firstname.lastname@example.org www.bostonleadership.com
All the best,