Being able to lead others – to motivate them to commit their energies and expertise to achieving the shared mission and goals of the organization – is a necessary and vital part of the job for every manager. Influence and leadership are connected in many ways:
Both come from within
Both facilitate change
Both require relationship building
Both can foster an environment of trust
It is said there are three kinds of influence – positional, power and interpersonal. Unlike position or power influence, interpersonal influence has to be developed or earned. It does not come with a job title or promotion. You build interpersonal influence as you demonstrate your own qualities and skills, such as good listening and reacting skills, a sense of humor, reliability, empathy and compassion. Interpersonal influence is based on trust, support, and collaboration. It results in commitment to the task or purpose: people decide that they want to work with you to get the job done.
Effective interpersonal influence involves three core elements: “I,” “You,” and “We.” Each element reflects an attitude. When you adopt this attitude, you tend to act in a way that contributes to effective interpersonal influence.
The “I” element reflects the attitude, “I am a trustworthy ally.” It involves taking actions that demonstrate your personal reliability, competence, and commitment. People learn about you from what you say and how you act. They will determine whether you are trustworthy based on your actions, and they will notice quickly if your actions do not correspond.
The “You” element reflects the attitude, “You are a valuable resource.” Actions that demonstrate this attitude show the other person that you value a working relationship with him or her. Examples include asking for their opinions and ideas and showing appreciation for their contributions.
The “We” element reflects the attitude, “We can accomplish this together.” The “I” and “We” elements together enable you to build an influence relationship. After you’ve done that, you can use the relationship to work together to solve problems and accomplish your goals (the “We” element).
In his book, Leadership from the Inside Out, Kevin Cashman said: “We tend to view leadership as an external event . . . as something we do. Rather, leadership is an intimate expression of who we are; it is our being in action.”
Another powerful influence strategy is to define what ‘role’ you are being asked to play in an influence situation. There are five influence roles that you can choose from: Change Agent, Consultant, Pitchman, Ally and Friend.
The role Change Agent is called upon when a process for change and direct coaching are required to move your partner forward in a positive direction.
You assume the role of Consultant when you are asked to add value beyond expectations through intellectual capital.
Pitchman is a great role when persuasion to ‘yes’ is a priority.
The role of Ally is best used to assert in meaningful ways that the partnership goes beyond immediate interests and even comes before personal gain.
The role of Friend is influential to connect on the level of human affection and interest apart from all work goals and professional expectations.
This unique approach to influencing offers leaders an opportunity to differentiate and outperform others.
In all, leaders need to consider various influence tactics as they try to ‘get the work done’. Leadership development, management and training practices should consider influence practices in all action planning to ensure that this exemplary interpersonal skill is kept top of mind. This is truly an X factor in business success.
I hold a Doctorate in Education (Ed.D.) with a specialization in Training and Development. Certifications in an extensive array of inventories and assessment tools.I have over 25 years of experience as a leadership coach, training director, facilitator and a University Professor.I help individuals work through career roadblocks, capitalize on professional opportunities and elevate performance by drawing on the mindset and powerful tools of three distinct disciplines: coaching, counseling, and mentoring.