Being influential is all about the ability to persuade others without the use of authority or force. It is the ability to create “win-win” scenarios.
It requires trust and the creation of a shared vision of success, and enables leaders to have impact in their organizations, industries, and communities.
Year after year, the top coaching priority for our clients has been influence. This is because leaders in every industry understand the value and importance of developing the ability to informally influence their direct reports, peers, and superiors.
Being influential helps leaders get things done – influence brings speed and inspires action.
But what drives a leaders’ ability to influence others? We’ve covered a few of the skills, behaviors, and attitudes on our blog – being human helps, as it allows you to be open about your intentions and make an effort to be present in conversations.
These are all aspects of a broader set of “coaching skills” that leaders can learn and use in their roles to be more effective and influential.
Coaching skills that build influence
Being able to influence others requires a deep knowledge and appreciation for their thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. Leaders who want to be influential must know what is important to the other person, as well as what they value! With this said, coaches learn in their training how to cultivate behaviors and mindsets that place others at the center of an interaction.
Giving people your full attention, being present, and setting aside your judgments are all ways to let people know you are truly interested in getting to know them better.
Successful people really do listen twice as much as they speak – Coaching is all about listening and asking questions to check for meaning, draw out values, understand what other people desire, and help them come up with their own solutions.
Listening and asking another person questions is the key to building the relationship – most people want to know you care about them before they are willing to ‘be influenced’ by you
One of the myths about coaches is that they are there to give advice – nothing could be farther from the truth. Rather, coaches are trained to manage a process of discussion and discovery that enables clients to set goals, identify roadblocks, and achieve results faster.
When in a coaching role, leaders encourage others to co-create solutions, which helps others build their problem-solving muscles. Because this approach builds shared ownership of ideas and actions, it also fosters stronger commitment and follow-through.
Sharing Context as Influential Leaders
Influence is key for many of our coaching clients. Leaders work hard to gain more influence and impact. It can be the difference between great collaboration and strong results versus disengaged teams and mediocre performance. One of the most important things that you can do in order to have more influence is remember to share context when you schedule meetings with other people. This is something you should do with both your peers and the people you manage.
Why you should share context with your peers:
Have you ever been invited to a meeting by another department and wondered why? Did you ever draw conclusions before the meeting even began?
- They probably invited me because they need to share what they are rolling out simply to let my team know
- They probably invited me because they need my funding to support this campaign
- They invited me because they were told to be collaborative
- They invited me because they think I will be a roadblock because they know I don’t agree with their campaign model
When we don’t know why certain things are happening to us, we draw our own assumptions. Regardless of whether or not our assumptions are correct, they impact how we interact, how much we share, and how willing we are to make commitments to our peers.
Now, imagine that you are the one calling the meeting, and your colleagues enter the meeting with all of these assumptions. How effective do you think the meeting will be?
By sharing context and background information up-front, this helps people see your point of view, and creates a shared understanding for your conversation. Otherwise, people spend less time listening to what you’re saying and more time making assumptions about why you want them to do something. This puts them on edge and makes them defensive.
Why you should share context with your employees:
Have you ever had a supervisor or manager call you into their office for an unexpected one-on-one meeting? How did you feel? Was it intimidating?
When you are a senior leader looking to meet with an employee, remember that these types of meetings can be stressful for many people – especially when they’re unexpected! Even if you just want to get a quick update on a topic, or understand more about a certain project, your employees may spend most of the meeting thinking that they’ve done something wrong.
This anxiety creates an “me-vs-them” dynamic which hurts collaboration and prevents them from being forthcoming.
Giving them context surrounding your meeting will not only relieve any anxiety they might have about the reasons for the meeting, but also gives your employee the benefit of being able to adequately prepare.
Helping leaders be more influential
“Being more influential” is the number one thing we help our clients with. At Epiphany, we have over ten years of experience helping leaders do just that. We focus on dramatically improving leadership performance, confidence, communication skills, and collaborative ability that positively drives stronger business performance.
Download our Free Guide Here:
Executive Coaching Guide: How to Create a Coaching Culture in Your Organization
This short, simple, and practical guide is written for leaders who are looking to understand and harness the power of coaching cultures and coaching skills in their teams and organizations.