We all have people who, in one way or another, have played a big role and influenced the way that we perceive things. Likewise, we have all influenced someone around us at least once in our lives.
I fondly recall my first HR Manager, when I was just out of university. Her authentic and supportive style inspired me to strive to always be more and achieve more than I thought I could. Her leadership style still influences how I lead and work today. Thanks Janice!
To move from a manager of tasks, to a true leader you need to engage the hearts and minds of your people. Ultimately, leadership is not about titles or positions but one person influencing another in a positive way. True leaders bring out the personal best in those around them.
If you want to be a better leader, you should be intentional about the way that you try to influence others. To influence people in a positive or productive manner, here are my top 10 tips:
- Connect with them – Creating strong connections builds mutual understanding, trust and supportive relationships. Take the time to get to know people personally, without a work agenda. One of the key reasons that people do things for you is because they like you. Strong rapport will mean that people will hear you out, step up to support your cause and strive to achieve with you.
- Listen more than you talk – Listening for understanding (not listening to reply!) enables you to understand different perspectives, what motivates people and check for understanding. By understanding what makes your team members tick, you will be able to handle different situations more effectively.
- Explain the why and what’s in it for them – As a leader, you are responsible for ensuring your team members understand WHY they need to achieve their goals. For example, hitting sales targets is important, however if they don’t understand or believe in the reason for the target, they will be less likely to strive to achieve it. Great leaders start by explaining the reason behind the results that they would like to see. How does this link to your (and their) vision? How does this support their goals?
- Develop people – The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership. By spending your time developing your team members, you will achieve through them, inspire them to do more and lift the results of your entire team. The top priority of a leader should be to achieve through their team, rather than focus on their own tasks.
- Give trust – Trust is the glue which holds all relationships together. The best way to find out if you can trust somebody (as well as to gain trust) is to trust them first. There is no greater empowerment and support you can give someone than to look them in the eye and with sincerity and conviction say, “I believe in you.” When you believe in someone, they can achieve the impossible!
- Provide opportunities for wins – Great leaders enable their people, helping them to go higher than they could have by themselves. Create circumstances that give your team members wins (whether big or small), that will magnify their potential. When challenges are mastered and turn into wins, people admire the leader who has encouraged and helped them to stretch and achieve.
- Lift people up – Always show kindness to others. We’ve all had moments when we’ve dropped the ball… In those moments, harsh feedback isn’t necessary or even valuable – this will just make them feel worse and damage your relationship. Instead, offer words of support, discuss how you will get through the challenge together. Having a solutions focus will create much better results than wallowing in the issue or failings.
- When issues arise, search for missing information – If someone behaves poorly, don’t assume you know why. Ask questions and make sure you fully understand the reason or reasons behind the behaviour. Only then can you make an informed, considered decision and take steps on how you can influence a solutions focussed outcome.
- Lead with character – Leading with character means doing what’s right, however hard it is. Standing up for what you believe in, such as unreasonable expectations, or an ethical issue. Having the humility to admit when you’ve made a mistake. Showing people that you’re human! Leading by example is one of the most critical elements in influencing others. People will follow you when you exhibit strong character and integrity.
- Role model consistently – If you expect someone to behave in a certain way (eg. being punctual to meetings, or even taking their lunch break), you need to set a good example yourself. By being punctual or taking breaks yourself, you are sending the message that this is the expectation and no-one is exempted. Walk the talk and be consistent.
Remember, People don’t remember what you do or say, they remember how you make them feel.
Gaining real influence is not about being the smartest, loudest or bossiest person in the room. Influence-building is being attuned to others and authentically connecting with people. It won’t happen overnight – you need to establish foundations and have consistent interactions to develop your influence over time.
As with most important skills, influence begins with self-improvement—a commitment to keep growing and learning. Setting this example is one of the most influential things you can practice!
What can you do to improve this week?
If you would like support in increasing your influence, book in a free Leadership Strategy call by clicking on the link below: