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Influencing

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Influencing

“Influence may be the highest level of human skills.”  – Anonymous

Rick’sTIPS explores the competencies necessary for successful leadership and provides activities to assist with the development and mastery of these skills.

The ability to influence and persuade outcomes is a competency everyone should master.  Whether you are in sales, management, an hourly worker on the shop floor, or a supervisor your ability to influence outcomes is critical.  When you need to get something done or a situation resolved, it is easy to do when you have rank and position power.  Often, we have neither.  We must be able to articulate and express thoughts and ideas.  It comes down to our ability to influence our environment.  Here are some strategies for you to develop.  Master them and you can change outcomes drastically and learn to have more control over your environment.

Positional and personal power do not guarantee that people will be committed to helping you develop and implement your strategies let alone follow you. You will gain leverage to actually exert this power by developing strategies to influence people and interact with them at a deeper level. The people who are seen as most effective in gaining the commitment of others use “core influencing tactics”; a combination of approaches including reasoning, inspiring and consulting.

  • Reasoning: Using logical arguments and factual evidence to persuade people that your strategy, proposal, or request is viable and likely to help the business achieve its goals.
  • Inspiring: Presenting a strategy, proposal, or request in a way that arouses enthusiasm and appeals to people’s values and ideals.
  • Consulting: Seeking people’s participation in planning a strategy, activity, or change, and being willing to modify a proposal to deal with their concerns and suggestions.

Reasoning
More than likely you are already employing reasoning as a way to influence.  You probably refer to data and statistics to provide evidence to show that your plan or proposal is likely to succeed.  Examples of reasoning, which has also been called rational persuasion, include explaining the reasons for your request, explaining how the other person would benefit if he or she supported you, and providing evidence to show that your plan or proposal is likely to succeed.

Another aspect of effective reasoning is anticipating people’s concerns and dealing with them directly. Review some possible problems with your proposal and show how they might be overcome. Show how you propose to avoid problems, overcome obstacles, and minimize risks.

Reasoning is used more frequently when people are trying to convince those who are in a higher position on the organizational chart than when they are dealing with their colleagues on the same level or with people who report to them. That may be because people are used to the idea that they have to convince their bosses, but feel that simply telling their subordinates what to do is sufficient. By developing effective influencing skills managers may rely less on the hierarchy and position and more on delegation and on cross-functional teams.

To move toward your objective to be more influencing keep in mind even though reasoning is, in general, one of the most effective ways to influence people, it cannot be relied on as the only way to do so. While logic may be compelling for many people, others are influenced more by appeals to their emotions and values. Gaining true commitment, rather than mere compliance, engages the heart as well as the mind.

Inspiring
While reasoning appeals to the head, inspiring appeals to the heart. Inspiring aims to develop enthusiasm and commitment by linking your proposals to people’s values, hopes, and ideals. Values that can be particularly inspiring include the desire to accomplish something worthwhile, to do something exceptional, or to participate in an exciting effort to make things better.

While inspiring is one of the three core tactics that builds commitment, it may be the most difficult one to learn to use. You may think, I’m just not rah-rah that way.  It’s important to realize, however, that inspiring does not need to be done with great fanfare. It can be just as effective in a quiet one-on-one conversation. The more you know about the values of the people you work with, the easier it will be to link their needs and hopes to the work to be done.

Which brings us to another key point about influencing: Effective influence is built on strong relationships with specific people. Its foundation is trust, which takes time and a series of interactions to develop and grow.

Consulting
Consulting is a third strategy you can use to influence and persuade.  It can take many forms including; asking people to help plan activities that will require their support, present your proposal as tentative and ask for suggestions, encourage the expression of concerns or doubts about your plan, modify your plan to address concerns and incorporate suggestions. How you react to ideas and suggestions is key to establishing trust and being influenctial.

Effective consulting results from a genuine desire for people’s input; it should never be used insincerely.  The input must be valued and used, or your ability to influence people will diminish over time. When it is done well, it proves to be the most effective and useful approach to gaining commitment. Consulting can be effective in all directions–with people above, below, or at your same level on the organization chart.

There are several other approaches or “support tactics” that can be effective in certain situations when used in conjunction with core tactics.  They are less effective than the core tactics probably because when used on their own, they will lead to compliance rather than commitment.  Read about “support tactics”…

DEVELOPING AN INFLUENCING PLAN

As a strategist, being prepared for a key conversation in which you will try to influence someone is fundamental for success. Whether you assess the situation and develop a game plan beforehand or are responding as you go during a discussion, there are some basic guidelines and questions that will help you understand the situation and decide on a plan of action.

  • Be clear about the purpose of your influence attempt–what results you want and how you will know when you have achieved them. Your purpose should be focused and specific and should describe what you want the person to do as a result.
  • Analyze the situation and the players as thoroughly as you can. Determine which approaches are most likely to be successful, given your analysis.
  • Identify an appropriate combination of tactics to help you get off to a good start and get the results you want.
  • Let the conversation evolve; don’t stick too strictly to a planned script. However, always keep your purpose firmly in mind.

11 Steps to Develop a Plan to Influence Successfully

Finally, effective influence is “NOT” a sneaky, manipulative ploy to trick other people into doing what you want. The best influencers are overt about their desire to gain your support. They will admit that they are trying to convince you and truly believe that you will both be well served by the approach they advocate.  If you try to convince others covertly you are asking for trouble.

Using your power and influence to gain support for strategic initiatives is a key to being part of the strategy-making process. The most effective strategists use a combination of approaches to gain support, varying their tactics to suit the specific situation in front of them.

Suggested Actions for Consideration

  • Anticipating people’s concerns and dealing with them directly; Review beforehand some possible problems with your idea or proposal and show how they might be overcome. Show how you propose to avoid problems, overcome obstacles, and minimize risks.
  • Use reasoning to influence all levels; Use the same influencing strategies you use to convince your bosses instead of simply telling your subordinates what to do. Rely less on the hierarchy and position and more on delegation and on cross-functional teams.
  • How do you find out what people’s values are? Ask them! “What’s most important to you about your job?” “What do you like best about it? What do you like least?” Another way is to pay attention to their behavior and find out what gets them excited? How do they spend their discretionary time?
  • Use the itemized response; After someone offers an idea or suggestion, first tell them what you liked about it. Preserve the valuable parts of the idea so you can build on them. Then, if you have any concerns, you can discuss them.

Recommended Reading on Influencing:

Influencer: The Power to Change Anything by Kerry Patterson
How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Influence by Robert Cialdini
Reading People by Jo-Ellan Dimitrius and Mark Mazzarella


I hope you found this edition of Rick’sTIPS:  Influencing beneficial.

I look forward to providing you with information that makes your life more productive.

Until next time…..

Rick

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