How Great Leaders Dramatically Increase Their Influence
How do great leaders dramatically increase their influence? How can a leader, especially one new to the role, become influential, routinely inspiring others to act, especially when they lack the courage to do so? As leaders, how can we manage, lead and inspire people all at the same time? How can we essentially become somebody they look up to and admire?
We all have our own mentors — people who have played a big role and influenced us in the way that we perceive things.
All of us at one point in our lives have influenced those around us. If you want to be a better leader, you should be intentional about the way that you try to influence others. A great leader is a person who has learned how to influence others, including their thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
Knowing how to influence people is a key part of leadership success.
In any workplace, there will always be influential stakeholders. How you manage these stakeholders will often be the difference between success and failure, especially if you are trying to make changes in your team or organization.
A team can’t win unless there is buy-in on the strategic plan, and it’s the leader’s job to ensure this happens.
Influencing others to take collective action towards common goals isn’t about manipulating facts or sugar-coating reality. It’s quite the opposite. One of the most important aspects of being an effective leader is the ability to influence others to believe in the mission and the results you want to achieve.
Effective leaders don’t just command; they inspire, persuade, and encourage. They point individuals toward a common goal, and draw out a commitment to achieve results.
But how do they actually pull that off? Here are seven ways great leaders dramatically increase their influence and leave their company’s organizational culture stronger than they found it. Read on!
Hack #1: Leverage Networks
Organizations are increasingly dynamic; they morph in size and shape over time. Influential leaders recognize that their personal networks must also be dynamic, and they continually grow and strengthen their networks.
Leaders who are skilled at influencing others cultivate the power of networks.
Leaders are responsible for connecting with their people and relating to them in a way that increases their own influence. When you can connect with people, you can begin to form relationships — and relationships are the basis of influence.
It’s easier to play the long game when trying to influence people. In other words, you should build relationships long before you need to use them.
If you have never spoken to someone and then suddenly turn up at their desk and ask for their support, they probably won’t feel compelled to help you. On the other hand, you can more easily influence people when you’ve already built relationships with your stakeholders.
Some leaders use humor to break patterns. Some do it by listening more and being empathetic.
Yet all of them have one thing in common: they truly care about those they are influencing and know how to connect with them. When you care enough to connect with someone and learn their patterns, you gain the ability to influence them. Without this vital knowledge, you could very well be using the wrong type of communication style — and you won’t even know why.
Great leaders are those who leverage the power of their internal and external networks.
They possess extensive personal and operational networks and they learn how to use these contacts not only for their own benefit but, more importantly, for the benefit of the team and the organization. This idea goes well beyond being simply well connected on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter with a multitude of followers: Influential leaders really know people and people know them.
Hack #2: Champion Others
Bad leaders only think of themselves in terms of climbing the corporate ladder. Not good, respected leaders who have influence training and management expertise. They put their staff ahead of their own needs by recognizing those employees who always give 100% and that go beyond the description of their job duties.
Effective leaders lead and find ways to enable their employees to reach their full potential.
In order to do this, a leader shares his or her knowledge and wisdom with their talented employees. Sometimes their own reputation gets put on the line for the betterment of the employee. By doing so they open doors for continued success of these valued staff members.
New managers often fail to recognize their responsibility to develop others.
Leaders know it’s their responsibility to mentor, guide and continually provide feedback to their employees. More than that, you must champion those you believe are ready to seek promotional opportunities and be recognized for their considerable efforts.
Great leaders lead and influence people by encouraging them at every opportunity. They will for instance praise people even for the slightest of improvement.
Encouraging small improvements helps them guide people in the right direction toward bigger goals and organization-wide objectives. It also helps keep people focused and motivated on moving forward in small ways. This of course builds momentum over time while also promoting positive change.
Self-promotion is often seen as bragging or selfishness.
In the hands of an astute leader, self-promotion isn’t just a tool to advance one’s own career. It can provide visibility and opportunities for their direct reports, generate team and organizational pride, and make capabilities and ideas more visible across the organization — ultimately enhancing collaboration.
Hack #3: Maintain Composure
Everyday management situations can incite fight-or-flight emotions in any reasonable person. Demanding customers, insubordinate employees, and misdirection from leadership can create frustration and rising emotions in even the most seasoned managers.
An essential element of leadership is maintaining your composure, no matter the scenario.
Speaking respectfully, with tact and reason, is key to being heard by others. A true leader can respond to emotionally charged situations with a sound mind and calm disposition. They consider all possible effects of their response and act accordingly.
As a leader, you’ve got to illustrate your credibility. This can be accomplished in many ways.
In order to truly influence others you must demonstrate some level of credibility so the team is more likely to believe in what you are saying. Whether it’s demonstrating consistency in performance, the ability to stay calm under pressure, a track record for making good decisions, or just good old fashion accountability, credibility is crucial for obtaining the buy-in needed for success.
Successful leaders with a great influence keep calm and carry on.
Not panicking when something goes wrong, and having the mental fortitude to listen, assess, develop strategy, and act when everyone around you is running around screaming that “the Sky is Falling!” is not easy — but it is the top job of a leader.
Everyday as a leader, you will be faced with a new challenge. That is the way it is. The leader that calmly leads under pressure will win.
You can’t prepare for every possible complication. But you can control how you react to them. Unfortunately, far too many leaders today are anything but calm and unruffled and more like the sea in a storm with crashing waves tossing the company back and forth, shaking up everyone on board.
Hack #4: Believe In Your People
Leaders recognize no success is achieved alone. While the recognition of others is essential, gratitude and humility continually demonstrated by leaders inspire others to act. When you acknowledge you are unable to act alone, while showing appreciation and humility for those doing the work, you encourage more focused, deliberate work from engaged employees.
A leader’s ability to create and maintain sufficient trust has very little to do with intelligence or personal charisma.
Knowledgeable leaders know that building trust requires engaging people, asking the right questions and being a good listener. It involves integrity, honesty and believability. Plus, humility demonstrates that no matter how experienced you may be, you recognize that improvements are always possible.
Nobody is perfect. Everyone has their personal flaws that make them feel insecure and inadequate.
Instead of making a big deal about people’s limitations, great leaders move in the opposite direction and choose instead to set clear standards that encourage positive change. Their primary objective is to lead people down a better path where their insecurities no longer hold them back from working to their full potential.
Building and maintaining trust is essential for leading.
Without trust, leaders may be able to force people to comply, but they’ll never tap the full commitment, capabilities, and creativity the group can offer. Leveraging these assets is invaluable when tackling tough challenges or making strategic change, so trust is vital.
When leaders reward employees they are sharing the success. Bad leaders focus on themselves and hoard positive recognition.
In reality, those same leaders wouldn’t be that successful if it weren’t for the people working for them. When praise is properly attributed, it continues to enhance innovation and stimulates new, unique ways of thinking. True, trusted leaders make it their duty to focus on the advancement of their staff and colleagues as opposed to themselves.
Hack #5: Set Unreasonable Standards
Low expectations are all around us and successful leaders know it. They also know it is their job to raise expectations and help people achieve more in their lives. Creating change is a simple matter of raising expectations.
Leaders must show a consistent, strong work ethic. This will help set the standard that employees are expected to uphold.
By constantly displaying your strong work ethic you define the level of performance that is expected not just from individual staff members, but as expected as an entire organization. The truly great leaders dislike false promises and have little tolerance for those who make false promises or disregard the impacts that their actions have.
Great leaders instinctively expect the very best from the people they manage.
They understand the incredible value of giving people a fine reputation to live up to. They therefore always use encouraging words that put people into an expectant and positive state-of-mind. This encourages them to get the very best from themselves in every situation.
To influence others and change the world, you must set a standard of unreasonable expectations. We all get what we tolerate.
The only way something revolutionary happens is when you won’t settle and when you know how to influence others not to settle. As leaders, we must create a culture where people live bigger lives with higher expectations of what they can do and how they are treated. We must give them the tools to unlock an extraordinary life.
Strong leaders have high expectations for themselves and others.
It is only the weak leaders who expect little from their teams, and inevitably, they get little from their teams as a result. This phenomenon is often known as the Golem effect. The Golem effect is a psychological phenomenon in which lower expectations are placed upon a person either by their supervisors or even by the person themselves. These lower expectations eventually lead to poorer performance by the person.
Hack #6: Always Be Crystal Clear
Defining the results and developing the plan for achieving those results is only part of leading a high-performance team. Defining what winning looks like it also an important aspect of creating a team driven to succeed. What does the win mean for the team moving forward? What will come next?
Helping the team visualize the win gives them the ability to start developing a path to get there.
People care about themselves. They care about their own goals, aspirations and targets. They also have only a limited amount of time to spend. That’s why you need to make sure they know what they can gain from getting on board with your idea.
To influence others, you must know what already influences them. That’s how to influence people and make real change.
You must understand who your audience is and how to reach that particular audience. Your passion brings the energy; your effectiveness comes from knowing who your audience is and how to speak to them in a way that moves them. Everyone is moved in different ways, so getting this right is crucial.
Clarity builds confidence in listeners and credibility in the message.
Leaders speak succinctly, choosing to use only words that add value to their message. You can hone in on this skill by practicing the less-is-more method. Pause to transition between thoughts and topics, allowing listeners to consider what is said. Provide messages in a clear and concise manner to avoid rambling and confusion.
People who are trying to influence others make the blunder of communicating in the style that works for them.
Those who understand how to influence people know that getting to know them better is a crucial step to communication and that influencing them cannot be done without it. Passionate and effective communication is the only way you’ll be able to bring the energy to inspire people to do something beyond the norm — to do something extraordinary.
Hack #7: Start With Why
Small visions have no power to inspire or move people. Instead of influencing others, you’ll be fighting for their attention. If you want to unlock an extraordinary life, you must have big dreams. This is why great leaders always have a vision larger than themselves.
One of the best places to start when you’re trying to influence people is to make sure they understand why what you’re telling them is important.
It’s very difficult to get someone on board with your idea if they don’t really know why it matters. They probably have a hundred other things to worry about, so why should they care about this one? Once people know why the conversation matters, they are more likely to listen to what you have to say next.
Trying to influence others to support a self-serving goal is a mistake many leaders make.
Remember that wielding influence is very powerful and is only to be used to influence change for the greater good. If you use it for selfish purposes, those you are trying to influence will sense it. When you have a specific purpose that benefits those around you, others will be drawn in to help you reach your goal and they in turn will influence others to help as well.
Having a clear vision, goals and a plan gives people a much-needed framework to get behind.
Selling people on how something will benefit everyone is critical because if you can’t convince people the goals are worth the required time and effort, the project is doomed before it starts. Be clear about your vision and goals, then convince others it’s advantageous to pursue.
The idea of leadership exists because we need people with vision who can get things done. But isn’t the workplace far more than how many dollars we’ve earned?
One of your most important jobs as a leader is to encourage results without making your teams feel like spokes in a wheel or gears in a profit making machine. Where’s the heart? What’s the point of any of the work you do if you’re not having fun and developing more positive relationships with the people you spend time with every day?
With these in mind, you can learn how to yield positive results in the way that you influence people, so that you can be successful in reaching the goals that you have set for yourself and for others. Changing how you influence others won’t happen overnight. It has to be practiced consistently and coaching is a great way to help you stay consistent.
The goal is to influence others, not manipulate them.
Effective, ethical leaders use different approaches in different situations, choosing carefully when to influence people with appeals to the head, heart, or hands.
Leaders change the state of others, and the world around them, by telling an effective story.
They say what they mean, care about those they are influencing and know how to tailor their approach to individuals or specific groups. They inspire others with their vision and by putting their plans into action.
Following these guidelines of course won’t be easy. It will take compassion, dedication and effort on your part to transform how you interact with those around you.
However with time, as you begin to change how you approach and interact with people, they will progressively grow to respect and admire your new leadership style. And that will of course signify the turning point where you finally tap into your power to lead and influence people in empowering and actionable ways.
Influencing people is a key leadership skill and will help you get things done.
I’ve covered some good ways to help you influence people, but I’d love to read your ideas too. Share your experience with other leaders in the comments below. How do you influence people? What works and what doesn’t? Don’t keep it to yourself!