As both an individual leader and as a manager, the ability to influence others is key in achieving goals, avoiding dysfunctional conflict, and creating a collaborative environment.
What makes the best influencers successful is the ability to listen and observe other people. If you listen closely, you’ll hear which tactics will be most effective in winning trust and confidence.
It’s certainly not easy, but keep these three tips in mind the next time you’re trying to sway a group:
Build trust by using the facts.
Often, when we’re trying to exert influence, we “start out swinging.” We launch into all of the reasons why we’re right and why others are wrong. This becomes very emotional very quickly, leading to non-productive interpersonal conflict. It can also spiral into influence by intimidation, which may seem to work but is rarely successful in the long-term.
Just like you would if you were negotiating, present the facts in a way that supports the point you want to make – whether it’s financial facts or market research to support sales goals. Keep the tone positive when you’re sharing these facts so people don’t feel reactionary.
Identify common goals.
You can discover common goals even if none of you agree on the same outcome. Everyone in your group needs to feel like they’ve had input and that they’ve participated in order for you to succeed. Look for ways to identify with individuals—not the group as a whole by trying to see the situation from each person’s perspective.
Solicit everyone’s opinion, and acknowledge that they may have valid points of view. This creates a sense of connectedness and lets you identify areas where you really do all agree. Keep coming back to those commonalities and stress how much you can identify with each other.
Use emotional intelligence.
Comedians aren’t the only ones whose outcome is based on how well they can read a room. It’s what emotional intelligence is all about. How well can you can recognize what’s going on in your own reactions and in what’s happening with others? We study this fascinating and nuanced topic in our Master’s of Leadership program, and it’s a lesson in what we call adaptive leadership.
Each person can relate to your goal in a different way. Some will respond to you if you show them how your point of view will benefit them directly. Others will be swayed by how your idea will help achieve a greater good. Or they may be most responsive when you state that your goals are aligned with a person they recognize as an authority figure.
The way to use leadership skills most effectively is tapping into what will motivate each person.
What ways have you found to be an effective, influential leader? Tell us in the comments.