Build Positive Influence to Increase Your Impact

Early in your career, you most often accomplish things by doing them yourself. As you advance to managing people and a broader scope of work, you become more reliant on others to move your goals forward. “Authentic, effective influence enables you to drive people to action long after your immediate interaction with them,” explains Stacy Hanke, author of Influence Redefined. Learn to build your influence with Hanke and other experts through WFF’s virtual 2020 Resolve to Thrive Leadership Development Workshops this fall.
 
Build Positive Influence to Increase Your Impact
Many leaders lack the influence needed to do their job well — and pave the way for advancement — because they think of influence as something to dial up for a high-stakes meeting rather than fundamental behaviors. 
 
Real influence stems from what you say and do 24/7, according to Stacey Hanke, keynote speaker and founder of a consulting firm that teaches leaders how to communicate with confidence, presence and authenticity. “Effective influence stems from what you say, how you say it and your body language being highly consistent over time,” she says.
 
Hanke is the author of Influence Redefined…Be the Leader You Were Meant to Be, Monday to Monday®. She will present the October 22, 2020 virtual WFF Leadership Development Workshop (LDW), Impact and Influence in a World of Change.
 
Generate commitment, not just compliance
One challenge to building influence is understanding what it is and is not. Leaders sometimes mistake positional power and authority that can be used to require people to do things with influence that motivates people to do things of their own free will. Leading through power can breed resentment where influence breeds respect.
 
Leadership scholars from Cornell University and the State University of New York at Albany identified some of the least, and most, effective methods of influence. The least effective include using positional authority to demand certain behaviors; coercion and pressure that rely on threats to force someone to act; and ingratiating that cajoles others into compliance. These tactics might produce sought-after, short-term behaviors, but also tend to generate resistance and compliance without commitment.
 
The influence tactics the researchers found that do generate commitment include:
  • Persuasion that emphasizes the positive benefits related to a course of action with facts and logical arguments that back them up.
  • Inspiration where leaders model the behavior themselves and link the desired outcome to shared team values and ideals. 
  • Consultation where advice and input from others encourages greater engagement. 
  • Collaboration that includes offering support and providing resources that enable others to take action.  
Say less, influence more
Hanke exhorts leaders to think first, speak second and be brief. “Overexplaining, exaggerating or trying to share all of your knowledge at one time takes too long to get to the point,” she says. “That frustrates listeners and teaches people to tune out and avoid you.”
 
Hanke suggests letting the listener be your guide. Find out what they need from you. Read their body language to see if they are engaged. And deliver a strong message in as few words as possible. Instead of meandering paragraphs, think and speak in bullet point sentences. “You will influence people to take the action you want when you say less, as long as it’s what they need to hear and creates understanding, brevity and clarity,” she adds.
 
Stand out
The most effective way to stand out in the workplace is by being exceptionally good at what you do. When you showcase your abilities in appropriate ways, serve as a resource to others, and model creative ways of thinking, you build social capital and a reputation for excellence. 
 
Hanke also suggests making your messaging stand out. “When what you do and say is memorable, unique and consistent over time, you grow your ability to influence others,” she says.
 
In emails with peers, for example, you can create an original, catchy and action-oriented subject line specifically directed to its recipient. Be precise about how and why someone should respond. Crafting emails to your boss that are specific, brief and action oriented also demonstrates that you respect her time by getting right to the point.
 
Leverage your network
Growing your influence means reaching more people with your ideas which may require growing your platform. Forging new strategic connections across the organization, and even outside your organization, will offer more opportunities to share your ideas, gain feedback
and build your credibility.
 
You can grow your network and your skills through WFF’s series of four half-day virtual workshops for emerging leaders and emerging executives. The 2020 Leadership Development Workshops (LDWs) combine outstanding content, expert speakers, industry role models and peer connection in a streamlined, online format. Resolve to Thrive.

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