“Influence is 15% professional knowledge, and 85% the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people.” Dale Carnegie
Influencing Others is the ability to persuade other people to support your ideas and positions. A leader with strong influencing skills is able to create buy-in and support for their ideas and initiatives by building a consensus and gaining cooperation.
Whether you are a new or experienced leader, developing and honing your influencing skills is critical. In fact, developing influencing skills is one of the top five competencies that leaders we work with seek to improve. Here are nine critical steps:
- Be an expert. Establish detailed knowledge of the areas you plan to exert influence.
- Identify critical people. Identify individuals who have both positional power and relationship power each can be critical to what you want to achieve.
- Keep the bigger picture in mind and help others see it. Focus first on the big picture when trying to influence another person, show them how it can work for them, their team or interest and the organization. After that, get into the details of how you’re going to fulfill the task.
- Confirm your position. To influence others, you have to be clear on what you want and need, and then be able to express it.
- Find common ground. Identify something that you have in common with the person or people you are trying to influence. Connect with them to create a shared understanding of objectives or interests.
- Identify and provide evidence. Do your homework and be prepared with evidence to support your position.
- Employ reciprocity. People are more likely to listen and be influenced by you if they feel you’ve done or will the same for them.
- Determine what’s in it for them (WIIFT). Common ground can build a connection between you and the other person, but you will need to highlight what’s in it for them if you want them to change a behavior or belief.
- Acknowledge the emotional state of others. When looking to influence another person, be aware of and acknowledge the emotions that you see, feel from others, or anticipate they will experience.
If you want to be taken seriously as a leader than you must have effective influencing abilities. To be able to influence you need to be prepared, offer well-considered ideas and solutions and speak confidently about them. You are the expert, you have experience, and you were hired to do a job. As a leader everyone, at every level, expects you to do that job - to lead and to be able to influence them accordingly.