“If you want to get traction at work and progress, you need to be able to influence. The good news is there are skills and techniques you can learn to master this craft,” according to Michelle Gibbings – a leadership expert and the director and founder of organisational transformation consultancy Change Meridian.
Gibbings works with leaders and teams to help them accelerate progress and is also the author of Step up: how to build your influence at work. Here she draws on her experience of enacting organisational change and transformation, and shares 10 ways to increase your influence:
1. Understand yourself Examine the mindset that you are applying to your work and relationships. Letting assumptions drive your thought processes, and ultimately behaviour, can negatively impact your decision making and interactions with colleagues and stakeholders.
2. Understand others Having insight into others enables you to encourage and inspire them to secure common goals. Take the time to understand what intrinsically motivates those around you.
3. Understand your environment Know the system in which you operate, and how the players interrelate and tend to make decisions. This includes understanding what drives change in your industry and business, as well as the common challenges it is facing.
4. Improve your productivity Influential people get things done. Be deliberate about how you use your time, decisive in how you make decisions, and determined in the face of setbacks. Persistence pays off.
5. Play the long game It is vital you secure long-term, constructive relationships that are mutually beneficial. One-sided relationships – where it’s all about the one person – are not sustainable. Seek to give, before you ever ask for something from the other person.
6. Build your network Identify relationship gaps and weaknesses, and put a plan in place to build your network.
7. Craft your communication style It is not how much you talk, but what you say that matters. Ground your messages in reality and what people need to know. Keep it succinct and friendly, whether you’re face-to-face or in a meeting. Be empathetic and believe your own message because it will show when you don’t.
8. Negotiate wisely Strive to secure outcomes that leave all involved with their dignity intact. Build the necessary relationships early and once you start the negotiation process, have the resolve to see it through.
9. Lead consciously Be conscious of your actions and how they are viewed by other people. Your leadership is constantly on display. Inconsistencies in what you say and do are easily picked up by others.
10. Maintain your integrity It is almost impossible to regain lost integrity. Guard it carefully and push beyond self-interest by helping others rather than being self-serving.