What exactly is influencing; and importantly, how can you develop this essential skill?
In essence, influencing is the ability to affect the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something else.
And the ability to understand and harness the power of influence is the key to effective leadership.
In today’s business world, effective leadership requires the ability to influence your virtual team, your peers, your manager and your customers – impacting their ideas, opinions, and actions. It’s not uncommon in the workplace to find you need to influence those who don’t even report to you to accomplish your objectives.
So, where ultimate success depends on your ability to influence both your team and senior leaders, it’s critical to master your influencing style to achieve your goals.
In this article, we’ll look at influencing style, what works and what doesn’t, and how you can increase your influence to achieve your goals this year.
What’s Your Influencing Style?
Firstly, have you ever considered how you influence those around you?
Are you conscious of the tactics you use, and that you are likely to use those same tactics time and time again?
It’s natural to fall into one type of influencing style and use that style repeatedly, or to default to the form that most influences us when used by others.
Of the five types of influencing style, can you spot your style here? –
- Asserting: If you rely on your confidence, as well as rules and authority to press home your point, you are an asserting style. You’re likely to insist that others listen to your ideas, even if they disagree. You are challenging and can sometimes pressure others to see things from your point of view.
- Bridging: Do you prefer to unite or connect with others to achieve your preferred outcomes? If you choose to consult, build coalitions, and use your relationships to get people to agree with your position, then you are a bridging type.
- Inspiring: If you tend to intimate how exciting your way will be for everyone involved, using inspirational stories and metaphors to illustrate your appeal and drum up the enthusiasm to instil a sense of shared purpose, then you are an inspiring type.
- Negotiating: If you tend to want to make a deal, trade or exchange to meet your most pressing interest and are prepared to give in on lesser matters, then you are a negotiating type. You are more likely to compromise than the other styles or delay discussions if they are not moving towards a solution.
- Rationalising: If you prefer to rely on facts and logical reasoning to persuade others, then you are a rationalising type. You use your expertise and experience to leverage advantage and drive your point home.
Does Your Influencing Style Work?
So, now you know your style. The question is though, does it work?
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.
So, it’s not enough to have a favourite style and be confident it will work time and time again.
Unfortunately, the unconscious bias leaders often have in decision making means that even when a preferred style doesn’t result in success, we fall back into the same patterns, repeating and intensifying our behaviour to try to persuade others.
If your success depends on the ability to influence others, you need to be aware of other styles and how you can harness them to maximum your influencing effect on whoever you are dealing with at the time.
Increase Your Influence
Significantly, in recent years there’s been a subtle shift in business influence and power, which as a leader, you may be aware of.
It used to be the case that, traditionally, power was hierarchical. So, the person at the head of the organisation made all the decisions. In this scenario, the person with power also has influence.
Not so anymore. These days, as companies move to more team-based models, it’s essential for leaders to be agile, diverse, collaborative and self-aware. Power is more about your ability to get things done as a team leader rather than wait for instructions. So now, the person with the influence has power.
In light of this, what skills and attributes do you need to be an inspirational leader with excellent influencing power?
Let’s take a look at the primary skillset required.
Credible: To truly influence, you need substance. So, back up your suggestions with specific facts.
Aware: You need to understand the interpersonal dynamics at play. Be mindful of how you talk, and listen to others to ensure you are communicating effectively.
Assertive: While being open to hearing the ideas of other people either in your team or department, you shouldn’t be afraid to challenge and make sure your ideas are also listened to and considered.
Persuasive: To convince others to your point of view, you need a rational argument. “Because I say so.”- isn’t going to work anymore.
Flexible: Be prepared to compromise on some issues to ensure you get your main concerns agreed.
Inspirational: Aim to excite others to the possibilities of your suggestions to get them on board and motivated.
Collaborative: Be empathic and engage with others. Actively listening to other ideas will build bridges. And if you listen to others, they are more likely to return the favour!
To be a successful leader, its critical to develop your ability to influence. 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.
Here at Zestfor, we now offer programmes to help you to optimise your leadership skills and personal development and get the best out of your team. If you would like to find out more, then send a quick email here.
Until next time,
Can We Help?
Zestfor specialises in developing Training programmes and resources scientifically tailored for technical markets – including Pharmaceutical, IT, and Life Sciences.
Our blend of in-classroom, online, and virtual live-stream delivery methods will engage and assure even the most introverted team members from the first meeting – whether face-to-face or virtually. To have a brief chat, call us on 0845 548 0833. Alternatively, please email our team here.