How to Influence Like a Leader

Great leaders get others to embrace ideas and act on them without using their direct power.

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Have you ever shared your perspective and it wasn’t received very well? Have you ever wanted to voice your ideas but were hesitant about the possible repercussions? Have you ever not been able to find the right words to express a solution you could so easily visualize in your mind? If you’ve experienced any of these situations, read on and discover how you can influence others as effective leaders do.

Why is influence important?

In today’s competitive business environment, influence is the new currency. If you want to work your way into a better career opportunity, be an influencer of good ideas. If you want to get your employees, your community members or your family on board in a certain direction, influence is more powerful and more sustainable than exerting direct pressure. If work in a cross-functional environment where you collaborate with other departments, your success lies in your ability to influence those not under your direct supervision as well as those with whom you do not directly report to.

What does it mean to influence like a leader?

Great leaders get others to embrace ideas and act on them without using their direct power. They don’t need to force compliance. Instead, they get into the minds and hearts of others by showing the VALUE to them individually as well as to the organization and any others involved.

What are the challenges to influencing others in a positive way?

People are reluctant to promote their ideas because of:

  • Fear of negative outcome.
  • Resistance to change.
  • Poor communication skills.

How can you overcome these challenges?

  • 1. Have balanced expectations about the consequences of speaking out. Take a moment to acknowledge the worst as well as the best that could result from sharing your ideas. Accept that the actual outcome will likely fall somewhere in between. This allays fear and puts it into proper perspective.
  • 2. Recognize that no one likes change because of the extra effort it takes especially change that offers no significant difference. For the listener, even changing their perspective has emotional and mental costs. Be clear on why the extra effort is worth it. To be realistic, be upfront about the benefits as well as the costs of change and then focus on how much the benefits outweigh the costs.
  • 3. Practice being clear and precise in your communication both written and orally. Have simple evidence or data to back up your claims. Most importantly, put the listener first when you communicate by considering how they want to receive information. Be interested in what they need in order to feel secure with your words.

How can you be an influencer in all your conversations?

Recognize that influence is cultivated before any conversation takes place. Influence is earned when you consistently behave in a trustworthy manner. When people feel they can trust you, they will give you their time, attention and consideration. Here are the 5 behaviors of an influential person:

  • Follow through-You do what you say you are going to do. From the smallest promise to the largest commitment, you honor your word. You demonstrate your reliability and dependability.
  • Hold yourself accountable-When you make a mistake or realize an oversight, you own up to it as soon as possible. You demonstrate the magnitude of your strength by admitting your vulnerabilities. You demonstrate fairness by holding yourself to the same standard that you expect of others.
  • Engage in healthy conflict-You encourage a healthy exchange of differences without being judgmental. You demonstrate the belief that the best solutions emerge when all sides are heard and considered.
  • Communicate honestly-You share information openly and honestly to the best of your ability. You are an active listener, hearing between the words to gather the full meaning of what is being said. You demonstrate a positive intent by being strategic in your communication so that it always contributes to the highest and best outcome. You demonstrate credibility by checking the facts and weighing the impact on others before you speak.
  • Build others up-You acknowledge the best in others and consistently reinforce them. You demonstrate your own self-confidence by freely giving others the spotlight.

Being able to influence others is key to creating success in every aspect of your life from work, to raising children, to developing strong relationships and social networks. Learn to influence like a great leader by overcoming your own challenges in speaking out and demonstrating trustworthy behaviors in all you do. Then go forth boldly and assert your influence. The world is always in need of one more good idea!

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