Leadership has taken on new meaning and greater challenges in the last decade and being able to influence even when you feel powerless is a must.
The VUCA environment that we are in now makes being a leader during these times even tougher, but with the right communication and influencing skills, it can be done. People bring a vast amount of skills, experience and points of view with them and with that comes the challenge of consensus. Often times, the difference between getting a Yes and a No is how you show up inside of the conversation.
1. If you have a hard time stating what you want, use a three step process to get it done:
-State your observations. These are the facts and things that can
be seen and heard. Observations are different from opinions. Facts are
objective and can not be argued.
-State your thoughts and feelings about the situation. Be sure to
start each of these statements with the word “I” so that it’s clear that these are your opinions.
-State what you want the other person to do. If you truly want the door to be open to alternative solutions, make statements about your needs rather than presenting solutions up front. If you state the solution too early, it might close the door on other possible alternatives.
2. Be Proactive and Build a Power Base – Build a foundation for influence before you need it. Having a good power base of relationships with others will make influencing a much easier task. Be proactive and do not wait until you need something to start showing an interest in what others are doing. Build all around positive relationships both vertically and horizontally. This means that you establish rapport and build relationships with everyone from the receptionist to people at higher levels within the organization or community. Most importantly, act with integrity and work to earn the trust of your colleagues.
3. Inspire Cooperation to Overcome Resistance – Do your research so that you can anticipate reactions and be prepared to address them. If you know in advance how people are likely to respond to your proposition or idea, you will be better prepared to deal with their reactions or resistance. A few things that you must do are to determine whose support you absolutely need to have and speak with others to clearly understand what you need to do to get their buy-in. Identify peers or others who may have some insight about that person’s purpose and values and ask for insight. Ask for feedback from those you trust and anyone else who may be involved. Keeping these things in mind will allow you to get meaningful commitments.
4. Go In to Win With An Agreeable Exchange – Ensure that your position addresses the needs of others. Research, research, research is the key here. If you go in with the goal of creating a win/win outcome, getting the buy-in of others will be much easier. Be sure to think of everyone that your proposal will affect not just the key stakeholder. Consider their concerns and how you might address them in your proposal. Offer something of value in exchange. It’s a give and take world and knowing this up front will increase your overall chances of success.
5. Continued Skill Building – Now that you’ve had experience with using this process to win someone over, continue building on your expertise. Look for small projects where you can use your influencing skills and create more wins for yourself. This will build your influence muscle and prepare you for the day that the “BIG” idea shows up. You’ll now be equipped with the skill, knowledge and confidence that you need to tackle it with ease.
Self Assessment & Action Steps:
Think about your own career and the position that you currently hold. Now really dig deep, be honest and ask yourself the following questions:
I place a premium on being able to positively influence others. ___ Yes ___ No
I thoroughly do my research before any meeting where I am trying
gain buy-in from others. ___ Yes ___ No
I work hard to build alliances throughout the organization and/or
community so that I will have the support that I need before I
actually need it. ___ Yes ___ No
I proactively seek feedback vertically and horizontally throughout
the organization on any and all influencing initiatives. When I
receive that feedback, I take what’s useful and relevant and put a
plan into place to work it. ___ Yes ___ No
I have a mentor or professional coach to assist and give me
guidance and feedback. ___ Yes ___ No
I am fully accountable for my level of success. I own it, take
action and celebrate when I win. ___ Yes ___ No
For every YES, write specifically what you are currently
doing that makes it effective. Now look for opportunities to build
upon these engagements to help continue to grow and develop. What
will you do next?
For every NO, write one thing that you will do to implement
this into your career development strategy. Be very specific and
give yourself a deadline to get it done.
If you found these tips to be helpful and you want more ideas on effectively using your power to influence, I’d love for you to celebrate Women’s History Month with me and join us at the 2016 Women & Power Symposium. www.wpsymposium.org