If you are leading or managing, you have to influence almost by the hour, never mind the day or week.
So what do we mean by influencing? For me, at its core influencing is quite simply about getting someone or a group of people to move in a certain direction because they want to.
Notice the words that are important; because they want to. If you think that you can get people to go in the direction you want through force, playing the power game or pulling rank, you are sadly mistaken.
Before you can ever expect to influence anyone, you need to have their respect. To earn respect of others, you need to respect them. So this is almost foundational in you getting anywhere when it comes to influencing.
Assuming you have earned respect, how can you get better at influencing?
Be clear about what you want to achieve
All too often, people step into a situation where they are trying to influence without absolute clarity about what they want to achieve. Before entering into any situation where you have to influence, ask yourself, “What is the outcome or result that I want to achieve?”
Once you are clear about this, write it down so that you keep it at the forefront of your mind.
Step into the shoes of the other party
Leaders and managers who really excel when it comes to influencing are able to step into the shoes of the other party. What do I mean by this?
Essentially it is about being able to see the issues from the perspective of others. How you might be viewing a change or situation will be very different to others. The more people you are trying to influence, the more views there will be.
Think about the objections or concerns that might be raised
No matter what we say or do, there will always be people who will raise objections or concerns. As the person who is seeking to influence, you need to be able to identify as many of the likely objections that you can.
Prepare your responses to potential objections or concerns in advance
It is always much easier to handle objections or concerns that are raised if you plan some responses in advance.
Know your boundaries
In any influencing situations, you need to have an element of flexibility. After all rigidity is only ever likely to get you stuck. At the same time, you need to set some parameters around which you are going to be flexible.
Practise, practise, practise
At the end of the day, the only real way to get better at influencing is to practise. Sure you will make mistakes but the key thing is to learn from them. After all, practice as they say makes perfect.
The Bottom Line
Influencing is an important element in delivering results. Take every available opportunity to practise and build your influencing muscle.
Duncan Brodie helps accountants and other professionals to become highly effective leaders. If you have enjoyed this article you can sign up for his free audio e-course on leadership here
Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 8,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.