One Easy Tip for Increasing Your Leadership Influence
Creating strong credibility and influence at work doesn’t HAVE to feel hard and inauthentic. Often, it’s the SIMPLEST approaches that build the most genuine and powerful connections. And with all that we’re juggling in work and life, who doesn’t like easy, effective, and real?
First, what do I mean by “influence”? A quick way to think about it is that your influence is the environment that you create in order for you to be taken seriously. It’s related to, but distinct from, “persuasion”…..which is all about getting your idea taken seriously. I
Influence involves forming and deepening the relationships and credibility you need to ensure support down the road when you need it…..for example, when advocating for change or for a certain decision to be made.
There are lots of cool ways to grow and cultivate your influence in the workplace. But for the moment, I’m talking about how to do that in a way that’s easy, effective, and real.
So here’s the technique…….
Just ask each person you talk to for input on you or something that you’re responsible for.
OK, if you’re rolling your eyes now, just hear me out, and I bet you’re likely to be intrigued!
Sure, asking people for input will sometimes yield some very good advice, and if so, that’s a gift you should accept. But in my experience, you sometimes get off-the-wall advice as well. Often, people offer you what works for them, not what would work for you or for the situation.
The genius of this approach is not necessarily the SUBSTANCE of the advice.
It’s the ACT OF ASKING, and what that does to build influence.
Here’s what happens when you ask a person for input
- The person feels respected and complimented. You’ve just deepened the relationship.
- Having given you their input, the person feels more invested in you having successful outcomes. To use a financial analogy, having handed something that they value over to you (their advice or observations), they’re now motivated to see a return on that investment. This means they are more likely to view you with some degree of goodwill and support in the future.
This technique works like a charm in building influence when used consistently. And it’s a particularly good fit for those of us who are introverts and prefer one-on-one interactions.
So what type of questions can you ask when you use this approach? Well, there are dozens or even more, but here are some good ones to get you started.
- I’m working on X. What tips do you have to ensure we’re successful with that?
- I’m working on X. What are some of the things we should avoid?
- What’s the one thing I could work on that would make me a better leader?
- [For a senior person] What’s the one piece of career/leadership/business advice you’d give to someone like me, based on your experience?
- [For a junior person] What’s one thing we could to make things better/faster/easier?
Of course, a very important step in this approach is HOW you respond to input. If you remain open, curious, and non-judgmental, you’ll see huge rewards. If the other person perceives you as debating or being defensive (even if you don’t intend to be), you could end up doing more harm than good.
So, for the perfect response, try this approach courtesy of Marshall Goldsmith and others.
- Ask non-judgmental questions if necessary to gain clarity. (“Can you tell me more about that?” “Help me understand why you think that.”)
- THANK the person for their input.
- If you fully agree with what the person said, tell them you intend to act on it.
- If you’re not sure you agree or if you disagree, commit to THINK carefully about what they said.
- Show respect by closing the loop later on. Tell the person whether you took action or not and what happened. Even if you decided to not follow their advice, people almost always feel positively to you if you took them seriously and had good reasons for taking another course of action.
By the way, if you’re interested in building your leadership presence in front of your board or management team, check out our free white paper on How To Grow Your Board Presence through the link on this page. It’s filled with easy and effective tips that you probably haven’t heard elsewhere and can start using right now