Influence is the new currency at work. We are said to influence more than a hundred people, on average, every day! Building your influence at work raises your profile, and getting noticed can be an important precursor for a successful career within the organisation. Having influence is also related to having impact. You can influence towards the outcomes you need. All too often, HR Practitioners report not being taken seriously at work. This blog looks at how we define influence, the outcomes of influence, as well as how to build your influence.
The Centre for Creative Leadership in their white paper ‘Influencing: the skill of persuasion’ define influence as:
the ability of a person or leader to affect, to shape or to transform the opinions (convincing) and the behaviors or actions (persuading) of other people without necessarily having a formal authority over these person(s).
What is important to note is that influence is referred to as a soft or personal power that sits aside from the power a person has because of the role that they occupy in the organisation. In other words, influence is type of power that enables a person to achieve outcomes without coercion. Developing your influence will enable you to have impact and to get things done, irrespective of your positional authority. That is, you do not have to occupy a senior role in order to influence.
Influence is so important, says the CCL, that it is listed as one of four critical leadership competencies for anyone in the organisation. As our structures become flatter and less hierarchical, traditional leadership roles require a rethink – we need to get better at motivating and inspiring people. So how do we do that?
The outcomes of influencing: commitment, compliance, or resistance
There are 3 possible outcomes from influencing, according to the CCL:
- Commitment – when people commit, that means they usually sustain effort over time with less monitoring, and they are more focused on a shared goal. That leads to better outcomes, and better relationships. This is the most successful outcome of influencing.
- Compliance – this is when people do not significantly shift their attitude or mindset. They are not fully engaged with the task and they do not give of their best. They are said to ‘consent’ only to the activity or task.
- Resistance – this is when leaders have been least effective at influencing, and it can be marked by an active rejection through sabotaging, obstructing, or attempts at dissuading the leader from the idea or course of action. Sometimes this can even provoke false compliance, where compliance is ‘faked’. This is not the outcome we want!
3 ways to build influence: Head, Heart, Hands
- Head: this is the facts and figures approach. Think of it as building the business case, it relies on logic and supporting information.
- Heart: this appeals to a person’s sense of belonging, their values and beliefs. The heart approach inspires and motivates, it provokes an enthusiasm to ‘be part of’.
- Hands: this is a collaborative approach. You get stuck in and offer help, ask for advice, partner to achieve a common goal.
There is no one right approach, and it is usually a combination of all three the leads to the best outcomes. Different situations and individuals will require different tactics. It’s up to you to decide how to balance the ones you choose, and to evaluate how you shape up in each.
What outcomes are you securing from your influence?
We recommend that you download the CCL White Paper if you would like to know more about this work. You can find it here.