Effective leadership relies on your ability to influence people’s ideas, focus, and actions. ‘Influence skills’ are even more critical in a scale-up business, as the leaders’ ability to influence partners and people who work with them determines their personal and organizational success.
Most people utilize a repertoire of 2-3 influence languages, while the most effective leaders develop skills to flexibly switch between all 10 languages to match specific business situations. To begin with, leaders at scale-ups can benefit from practicing the following four power tools:
- Asserting – Asking for what you want directly and clearly.
- Inspiring – Connecting your request to others’ values or beliefs.
- Rational Persuading – Using logic, facts, evidence, and other proof to substantiate your request.
- Consulting – Incorporating another’s ideas into your request or co-building a solution with them.
Rational Persuading is useful when working with someone who shares your values and goals, but not necessarily your approach. Leaders need to understand assumptions and objections – both yours and the other parties. Always say why, why the request or course of action makes sense, and then provide evidence to support the conclusions (including evidence the other party may not be aware of – new data bolsters your case). Caution: Rational Persuading can be time-consuming – if you need a quick answer you may wish to use another style like Asserting or Inspiring.
Using each style appropriately requires assessing your audience – what are they expecting and what will they respond to? Consulting is the most effective way to enlist the support and help of others and is very effective in creating buy-in within your company. Consulting is influencing through collaboration – inviting others to contribute to the concept, proposal, approach, plan, or strategy. When people contribute to the plan, they feel some ownership to it and will therefore be more committed to your request. Consulting behaviors include asking people to help you arrive at an acceptable solution, appealing to their expertise, asking for input, probing for feedback and more.
Even with mastery of these influence languages, one additional skill is paramount – effective listening. Personal influence is not about manipulating others, but rather using your talents and abilities to encourage others to work with you while providing help and assistance as necessary. To truly influence others, you must also remain open to being influenced yourself. You cannot be the influencer all the time. Try to be the influencer about half the time and give the other person opportunities to influence you frequently. You will find that principle of reciprocation takes place. People who realize that you are open to being influenced will then open themselves up when you need help and assistance.
This article was contributed by Executive Core, an organization that specializes in Executive Coaching, Executive Assessment, Executive Education, Team Assessment, Team Alignment, and Onboarding and Succession Strategy
OneEleven’s learning partner, Executive Core, is working with members to develop their skills through the Language of Influence™ assessment.