The Concept of Influence
Most organizations and teams run on influence because they are made up of people with different experiences, styles, relationships, skills, and perspectives. Whether you are a team leader or a team member, your success is highly dependent upon your ability to influence others. Influencing a team involves all the strategic influence skills required for one-to-one influence, but it is a more complex and multi-layered process. The best leaders have mastered influence tactics for managers.
We think of influence as the ability to affect the thinking and behavior of a coworker to promote the desired results in a way that makes sense. In essence, effective influence lets you get things done and achieve desired outcomes while not harming but building relationships along the way.
As we teach in our new manager training, at its most effective, influence is not about having power over someone to do what you want them to do so much as gaining their genuine commitment to accomplish the goals you seek in a reasonable manner. Defined in this way, influence becomes a critical management development skill for people leaders charged with accomplishing objectives through the efforts of those on their team.
3 Ways to Influence Others
There are basically three ways to influence others:
- through logic
- through emotion
- through collaboration
And, just as employees have very different working styles, direct reports receive influence in very different ways. There are some who respond favorably to arguments that are well-reasoned and logical. Others are better attuned to appeals that link your message to their individual values. And still others are more easily persuaded by appeals to work collaboratively toward a mutually agreeable goal.
The key to success for people leaders is knowing when to use which influence tactic with which employees.
The Influencing Process
Here is a road map on how to use to better influence your team as a manager.
- Establish a Team Climate for Influence
The process of team influence begins with team health and team clarity. To set the stage for influence, ensure that there are high levels of understanding and alignment around:— Team goals and accountabilities
— Team norms
— Team roles and responsibilities
— Team interdependencies and scope
— Team success metrics
— Team processes
- Analyze the Situation
Too many inexperienced leaders fail to properly analyze the current situation before acting. When you have a high stakes influence situation, invest the time and energy to answer key questions beforehand like:— What is the context surrounding the influence situation?
— Who do I need to influence? Who are the key opinion leaders?
— What is the influence goal?
— What about the influence situation is in and out of my control?
— What do I want people to do? What is the benefit to them to do so?
— What are the implications of action or inaction?
- Tailor Your Influencing Strategy
Think through each individual on your team knowing that each may require a different influencing approach. You need to determine which influencing style would best engage their support and effort.
- Recognize Your Own Influencing Strengths and Weaknesses
Do you generally use the same logical approach to influence? If so, try to expand your influencing skill set to use the other two tactics as appropriate. Practice in situations that have minimal risk in order to broaden your influencing versatility.
- Design Your Influence Plan
Determine which influencing approach would work best with each stakeholder. How will you phrase your appeal? How are they likely to respond? Are you ready to shift gears if needed?Some may initially support your collaborative influencing approach but then need a more logical argument to secure their full buy-in.
The Bottom Line
Leaders, managers, and team members can be conscious of choosing and using specific influence behaviors that will help to achieve successful results. Do your leaders and managers have the influence skills required to get work done with others in a way that makes sense?
To learn more about proven influence tactics for managers, download How to Build the Competency of Organizational Savvy to Influence Others with Integrity