Often when I work with leaders either in leadership programs or coaching, the topic of influence comes up. Although a leader may be a strong technician and extremely capable of carrying out their job responsibilities, they can also feel that they are not as persuasive as they would like. Not being able to galvanize others to support our ideas and suggestions can be frustrating and even throw off our confidence level.
Can you relate to this scenario? You and your team members have been brainstorming the best way to approach your client about moving up a deadline. The information you need to complete the project is not rolling in as quickly as you imagined. Some of your colleagues are trying to pressure the team to just hand over an incomplete document to your client. You are certain that if you just wait a few more days, all the data will be available and then you will be able to present the client with a complete deliverable. As you try to convince your team of extending the deadline there seems to be very few who are supportive of your direction. You keep trying to influence the team about your perspective, but they aren’t buying it. In the end, the deadline is not moved forward and the client is extremely upset with what they are presented. If only you could have persuaded them.
Six tips to becoming an influential leader:
1. Focus On Relationship Building
Every influential leader has learned that it begins with the people piece. In order to galvanize team members or bosses to embrace your ideas, you first must cultivate meaningful and trusting relationships. It is virtually impossible to expect your team to listen to your strategies if you haven’t shown care and concern for them. Additionally, throw your net out wide to a large network and get to know people from different teams and areas. Those relationships may be important as well.
2. Develop Your Credibility
For leaders to be persuasive, they need to be dependable and follow through with what they say they will do. Credibility carries a lot of weight in being influential. Here are some ways to demonstrate credibility:
- Listen to team members to understand what they are really saying.
- Never conduct a “bait and switch” tactic to get your way.
- Be trustworthy so others can count on you always being honest and telling the truth even if they don’t want to hear it.
3. Craft A Clear and Compelling Message
An influential leader is able to express themself with both clarity and energy. The words they choose are descriptive and clearly state their message. In addition, the message is compelling so others will want to support their decision and join the excitement. It is important to make the case of why a certain choice is being suggested and carefully spell out your “why”.
4. Be Inclusive and Approachable
Being influential involves having the ability to reach out to include input from many different demographics and thought leaders. Leading a discussion or a project with many opposing factions can go awry very easily. Some ways to make sure we lead with openness and inclusivity include:
- Promote an open dialogue by welcoming feedback, even if it is critical.
- Treat team members with respect and value.
- Cultivate an environment of safety to speak up for everyone.
5. Master How To Inspire Others
An influential leader is an inspirational leader. To rally together team members or bosses to embrace your idea, it is so essential to present an exciting vision. Begin by asking yourself what are the pain points and what steps are most practical and purposeful to make a choice. Have a clear understanding of what it is important to your teammates. Stay upbeat, positive and share a well thought-out plan.
6. Put Appreciation and Recognition High On Your List
The final and critical tip to being influential is being grateful for all the hard work and input from colleagues. Leading with an eye to recognition will empower others to rise higher.
- Thank colleagues publicly to demonstrate how much you care and appreciate their dedication.
- Make sure people are given credit for their contributions.
- Offer to put something in writing in someone’s file for an accomplishment that was difficult to attain.
- Become known as the leader who is an advocate for others. Watch your influence grow.
What has helped you become an influential leader?
Related: Can a Leader Be Too Transparent?