So why is influencing important? Why do we need to be good at it?
If any the scenarios outlined below look familiar to you or apply to you then your ability to be influential will be a major factor in you being successful in your role. Chances are there will be more than one of these that will apply to you.
- If you work in a large organisation, you inevitably have to interact with other departments to deliver within your own role. You need to be able to get their buy-in and support for your plans or you need their services in order to deliver. Your ability to influence them could make the difference between an up-hill struggle and a smooth road to success.
- If you lead a team, it is no longer enough to tell people what to do and expect them to do a good job. That will only work short-term. In the long run you need them to be committed and motivated and to be prepared to go the extra mile. You need to persuade them of your reasons for what you are asking and influence them to want to deliver to the very best of their ability.
- If you work in an environment where there is a lot of conflict, you need to be skilled at managing that conflict, both to take care of yourself and to try to resolve conflicts rather than escalating them. This is tough for many of us and requires a lot of skill and a good measure of resilience and self confidence to manage the situation and to work things through to a good outcome. Key influencing skills of assertiveness and empathy are of paramount importance in this case.
- If you are a senior executive in an organisation, fairly or unfairly, your power to get things done will very often be dependent on your reputation and your supporters at senior levels. At the most senior levels in large corporations, your drive for results may be no more important than your ability to develop a network of contacts who will be on your side and ease the way for you to deliver. This takes time, energy and clever influencing over time.
- If you work in a situation where life is dominated by meetings, your impact in those meetings will be critical to people seeing you as a key player and as someone who has a real contribution to make to the business. Your ability to manage your impact in meetings and to be seen as influential will determine your reputation as much as your record for delivering results.
- If you lead a team, the chances are it will be made up of a variety of very different individuals and you may need to be very flexible in your approach to get the best out of each one of them.