Hi everyone, this is Tom Hallett from the Learn Grow Succeed Podcast.
Lately I have been thinking about the main attributes of great leaders.
Of course, there are a few, but I believe one of the pivotal traits is the ability to persuade others to take on or consider a different point of view.
The world’s great leaders through the centuries have had the skill to persuade others: motivating and inspiring them to achieve great things.
So without a doubt, the ability to influence is an essential leadership skill.
Now, influence shouldn’t be confused with power or control; it’s more about having the ability to impact the behaviours, opinions and choices of your team and others around you, to facilitate collaborative and productive working practices that will result in success for your organisation.
So, what makes an effective influencer?
An influencer knows what is vital to individuals while balancing these requirements against the needs of the whole team and the values of the business.
Today, I’d like to talk through how the most successful leaders build trust and increase their influence with others with the following useful tips and guidelines to help you leverage and enhance your ability to gain the commitment of your own team.
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So, let’s get into today’s podcast topic on how you can hone the essential skills needed to become a powerful influencer in the workplace.
But before we dive into the essentials for being persuasive at work, let‘s take a minute to think about how we seek to influence others.
Have you ever considered how you influence those around you? Are you conscious of the methods you use? Do you tend to use the same processes time and again to achieve the results you want?
We all fall into an influencer ‘style’ or type. There are five main influencing styles, and most people default to the one that they find most comfortable; that suits their personality type, and use this style repeatedly.
But think for a minute – if there are five styles, and you are focusing on only one, that means that your preferred method will undermine your ability to influence four out of every five people!
Unfortunately, unconscious bias often means that even when a preferred style doesn’t result in success, we tend to fall back into the same patterns, repeating and intensifying our behaviour to try to influence others.
So, the initial thing to remember is that by being conscious of your influencing style and prepared to adapt it to reflect your audience and a particular situation, you are more likely to achieve the outcome you want.
Once you understand this premise, we can take a look at the five skills that will help you develop your leadership influence:
Firstly, you need to be credible
“Because I say so” really isn’t going to work anymore; those days are long gone… hallelujah!
To truly influence, you need substance.
So, always back up your suggestions or requests with specific facts or data.
Remember, persuasion relies on your ability to convince others to acknowledge AND consider your point of view, so you need a rational argument to back up your request.
Next, listen to others
No, really listen to others.
Excellent leadership means practising active listening. And that means listening to what another person has to say without starting to formulate your response while they are still talking.
If you find yourself doing that – you’ve already stopped listening.
Active listening provides a platform for influencing and forms a fundamental part of the communication process. It’s about a dialogue.
To successfully adopt active listening, it‘s crucial that you remember to paraphrase, empathise and question, so you can provide a thoughtful, balanced response that will help grow your influence.
Additionally, understanding team interpersonal dynamics at play will help: be aware of how you talk, and listen to, others to ensure you are communicating effectively.
Try complimenting people with sincerity – and for things, they may not usually be complimented for.
For example, it could be a report they regularly produce that forms part of their job, but if it’s well researched and written up – why not acknowledge it?
One of my clients told me that when she worked in events, her manager always wrote her a thank you letter after a corporate entertainment day. He didn’t need to; it was part of her job, but the fact that he did made her feel valued and determined to create an even better customer experience next time.
Actions like this don’t cost anything but a moment of thought, and yet can help build positivity – and we are more likely to trust people who we feel positive about.
Which leads me on to my next point…
Without trust, influence is next to impossible. The ability to build deep and lasting relationships founded on trust is fundamental to being persuasive.
In her book Dare to Lead, Brene Brown describes trust as “a must-have. Without it, every part of your organisation can fall…with trust, all things are possible – most importantly: continuous improvement and sustainable, measurable, tangible results in the marketplace.”
Additionally, building trust enables a safe environment where mistakes are seen as learning opportunities, where employees are valued for their opinion and contribution, and where honesty and transparency are key.
Finally, Show Confidence
Nothing is quite so compelling, engaging and attractive to others as someone who exudes the confidence of certainty.
Leaders who exhibit this trait can easily influence and persuade others to follow their lead. They are inspirational; weaving a narrative that excites others to the possibilities of their suggestions and consequently getting them on board with ideas.
Basically, if you believe in what you do, you will be able to convince others too.
I hope I’ve provided you with some useful starting points to help you grow your credibility as a persuasive leader.
Using your understanding of the different influencing styles will enable you to work with individuals and teams, employing the most effective communication styles to suit the occasion.
And by adopting the strategies outlined in this article, you will be able to educate, encourage and motivate your team successfully using your powers of persuasion.
Until next time!
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