Monday, March 18, 2013

Developing a Portfolio of Influencing Skills

In my last blog entry I addressed the role of the leader in "managing up".  On reflection, it's really part of a broader subject which is the category of "influencing skills".  It really doesn't matter the direction... up the hierarchy, down the hierarchy or laterally.... leaders need to be good at influencing the thinking and actions of others.

In my experience there are at least five different dimensions to this skill set.  One way to influence is by position in the organization.    Designated leaders can draw on their experience, their access to information and the fact that they are accountable for results to influence the thinking of others.  In some cultures leaders are expected to tell others the direction, allocate resources and establish priorities.  In other company and country cultures the leader is expected to consult prior to taking decisions.  In some circumstances, when there is disagreement on the team, a decision must be taken and the designated leader must take that decision.  The point is, for a variety of reasons, the designated leader may influence others by the nature of their position in the organization.

A second way to influence is by the use of dataChris Argyris, one of the best known US business theorists, would say we all, regardless of culture, have a need to be seen as rational.  The use of data in influencing others is a very powerful tool in the leaders kit because it appeals to a universal human character trait.

A third influencer is by charismaCharisma is that special personal quality that inspires enthusiasm or support.  Forbes identifies five qualities of charismatic leaders.  Although it's true that these qualities come more naturally to some people more than others, charisma is actually a  product of developable skills.

A fourth influencer is to be able to articulate "what's in it for me", sometimes referred to by its acronym "WIIFM."  In some circumstances the leader my be able to draw a line of sight between the desired action and personal benefit for any employee.  The benefit might be tangible or monetary or it might make difficult work easier.  The WIIFM approach by definition appeals to a personal benefit.

Fifth is for the leader to create a broader frame by drawing a line of sight from the individual work to an organizational benefit....the opposite of WIIFM.  It's telling the story of how the individual work contributes to the greater aims of the organization.

None of these stand alone as "right" or "wrong".  All have a place at different times and in different circumstances.  Great leaders understand this, develop the full range of skills and employ the influencing strategy best suited to the situation.

1 comment:

  1. Influencing skills oblige a specialist to consider others' points of view. It includes getting individuals to alter their opinions around a theme and to act in a certain manner by recognizing their sentiments. Thanks!!!