Leading the Right Way … by influence

LeadershipLeading is getting others to follow. You can use authority or influence. The concept of influencing others will require you to evaluate your ideas about power. Today’s workforce want team leaders who are willing to lead, not just manage. The most effective leaders seek to “influence” or use their power in constructive ways.

Influencing others means expressing one’s intention to persuade, convince, or impress others in order to gain their support. Influencing others also implies a desire to have an impact or effect on others. The effective use of influence allows you to build support, share values, include team members, and use reason and logic.

Let’s examine four (4) influence styles that may be used separately or combined to formulate a more complex strategy:

Building Support is a style that uses networks and coalitions to enlist the support of others to build acceptance of ideas. This includes finding out who is most likely to influence a decision and working behind the scenes to build support. This style is most effective when it is necessary to in influence a number of people from different departments and when there are key people in the organization who can influence a decision favorably or unfavorably. Under conditions when the organization is a highly politicized, and you do not have direct authority, or there is an imbalance of power (with supervisors) this style may work for you.

This style is least effective when those you seek to influence are outside your organization or when the decision is to be made on the basis of objective criteria such as cost and when those you want to influence are not concerned with the reaction of others.

 Appealing to Shared Values involves drawing on shared values or principles, or showing others how your idea is important to the broader goals of the organization. The key to this style is being able to identify common ground shared by you and those you are seeking to influence. This style is most effective when you can identify a common goal and there is agreement on shared values, strategy or vision or if your personal credibility is high and others trust you.

This style is least effective when the organization’s goals and values are about to change in unpredictable ways, you lack credibility and the people you are trying to influence are cynical about the organization.

Involving Others is a style that seeks to gain the support of others through involvement, a willingness to adapt ideas to meet the needs of others, or an acceptance of the suggestions of others. This style looks for win-win solutions. It is most effective when people whose support you need have a high level of knowledge or expertise and maintaining positive relationships is important. This is all effective when you need to have high levels of acceptance and commitment and others must show exercise their own initiative.

This style is least effective when decisions must be made quickly, a crisis exists, and people are not empowered. If there is disagreement about the goal, desired result, or agenda, this style is inappropriate.

 Using Reason or Logic relies on facts to persuade, influence and convince others. This includes offering reasons to support views, pointing out comparative advantages and disadvantages of other approaches, and preparing well-planned arguments to support ideas. This style is most effective when dealing with people who rely principally on logic and reason in making decisions or when the other people are systematically comparing several alternatives and if there are clear, compelling reasons for pursuing a course of action. If personal, subjective preferences are being expressed and there is a need to make an objective, fact-based decision, try this style.

However, this style is least effective when those who support you are strongly influenced by personal relationships, or strong personal feelings are expressed. If the people you are trying to influence are very concerned with personal goals, hopes, and concerns, or there are disagreements about facts, this style may not be very effective.

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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