Investment Creates Influence
Many of our clients lament the fact that they are frequently asked to manage a project or complete tasks with no formal authority. They feel like they can’t get things done without the ability to dictate to others the terms and conditions for accomplishing the objective. In our view, they’re missing the point of leadership. The adept definition of leadership is influence; the ability to influence others to accomplish a task, goal or purpose. Once you accept the fact that leadership is influence, you realize that you can do it no matter where you are positioned in the organizational hierarchy.
So if leadership is influence, how does one go about exerting influence? Since we’re currently in a major election cycle, let’s talk about it in terms of a campaign, which provides great insight into the nature of influence. It’s obvious today that many people influence the political process by investing money. Lots and lots of money. The more money they invest, the more influence it seems they obtain. Those who don’t have the money, influence the political process by committing significant effort through movements such as the Tea Party or the occupy demonstrations. That’s a big investment of time. Either way, the common denominator of influence is investment. The way to influence those with whom you work with is to invest in relationships with them.
The investment of time is a people centric approach to getting things done. It creates a bond of commitment between you and those you are trying to influence in moving toward a goal or project. As with financial investments, it’s helpful to have a balanced portfolio of influence strategies to achieve your targets. Some of these strategic influence investments include: developing rapport, establishing credibility and building trust. All successful relationships are built on trust. Developing rapport by showing genuine interest in others; establishing credibility by actively listening; considering other points of view and being consistent all contribute to the foundation of trust.
With a foundation of trust established further influence is gained by investing time in defining a compelling purpose, clarifying real expectations, and giving in order to get. These can help drive the depth of your relationship by allowing people to see how they can be engaged, understand what’s in it for them to accomplish the objective, and realize that you’re in it with them.
You can get things done through others whether they work for you or not. It’s all about leadership influence, and investing strategically into the relationships of those with whom you work.
People Centric Investments
As you look to enhance your influence, there are four investments you should consider in order to build your leadership and relationship portfolio:
- Rapport, credibility and trust flow together. Rapport is all about the ability to understand others, where they’re coming from and what’s important to them. Credibility is establishing some level of belief from the other person that you can do what you say you can. Trust is about building a deeper connection of understanding through sharing insights and observations and appropriate vulnerability.
- Define a compelling purpose. Going beyond the agenda or goal of the project and getting to the gut level benefit to all that are involved. This is more about the heart than the head and really clarifies to all parties the ‘what’s in it for them.’
- Clarifying expectations. Clarify and communicate expectations for roles, boundaries for processes and procedures, and autonomy for actions and decisions. Discussing and clarifying these expectations can prevent a great deal of misunderstanding in the future.
- Giving to get. Doing things for others is often an investment of time and effort which is magnified in return. The key to receiving a great return on that investment is understanding what to give that will be of greatest value to the receiver.
In the next two weeks practice strategically investing in each of these actions and watch your leadership influence grow!