What is influence at work
Influence is one of the most misunderstood terms. It is mostly associated with manipulation. This could be because of how influential people have behaved before or are known to operate. Along with this misconception are myths about influence. One common myth is that influence is a thing that is possessed.
On the contrary, influence is relative. An individual may have significant influence in one relationship and be extremely dependent on another. For example, one may be a manager at work and influence a large group of employees. However, the same person may have no say whatsoever in family matters.
Secondly, influence is also confused with authority. One may be in a position of authority but not have influence. This is far from the truth. At the same time, to have influence, one does not need a high position in the hierarchy.
Thirdly, and most common is the myth that influence is dirty. Influence is neither good nor bad. What determines its nature are those who exercise influence in any situation. So, what exactly is influence?
Simply put, influence is an individual's ability to transform or shape the opinions of others. Therefore, influencing in the workplace means the ability to transform the behaviors of other employees. Similarly, influence entails setting an example that inspires others and not pressuring them into submitting to requests.
Also, influence is a crucial interpersonal skill that is frequently ignored. This ability comprises inspiring or persuading people to change their minds on a topic. Fortunately, influence is a learned talent that can be practiced, refined, and applied regularly. As organizations aim to grow and innovate to fulfil the demands of their clients better. This can have a direct impact on individual and organizational performance.
Tips on increasing influence at work
The ability to empathize with others is at the core of management skills. It establishes the groundwork for your other management abilities. You acquire influence through earning respect by continually demonstrating that you listen to others and try to comprehend their concerns. Although you may have the legal authority to exercise power as the company owner or manager, you become influential by cultivating positive connections with your staff.
At the same time, emotional intelligence allows a leader to assess how others react to a situation and adjust their speech accordingly. Emotional intelligence is the ability of an individual to control their emotions to diffuse conflict, overcome problems and sympathize with others. A leader with high emotional intelligence may foster positive interpersonal interactions, create a healthy work environment, and motivate staff to meet company objectives.
The best leaders are always open and honest. You must be open and honest to grow your influence. Allowing others to express their questions and concerns and responding to them with transparency is critical. When there is good news to tell, being honest is easy, but staying completely honest when unpleasant news can be challenging. If you are not ready to answer a question, say, "I want to make sure I have all the correct facts before I answer that." Allow me to investigate the facts and respond by the end of the day." Follow up as soon as you have an answer to their question. If you respond positively and openly, you will build a dedicated team dedicated to you and your objectives.
You become influential in the workplace as a person in authority by demonstrating an understanding of the basic and advanced tasks of the business.
You gain influence when you solve problems. Your effective solutions illustrate that your management skills have earned you the title of a manager. Therefore, when problems arise, you become the go-to person. Similarly, your influence will grow as your decisions are executed and employees witness favorable results.
An individual's capacity to communicate their thoughts to others is known as communication. Due to a lack of clarity in communication, ambiguity exists, allowing subordinates to do whatever they want. The leader would be unable to inspire staff to match their ambitions with business goals if communication was inadequate. A leader must also be an active listener to influence employees. A leader should use active listening skills. The leader cannot address problems or encourage subordinates to do better unless they listen to their concerns.
Excellence increases influence. Managers who incorporate high expectations into team and company objectives can motivate staff to strive for excellence. Employees are more engaged in a process with clear, well-defined expectations than objectives attained under old authoritarian models based on threats and rewards. This helps you influence employees and steer them in a favorable direction by incorporating them in creating solutions to satisfy high expectations.
Leading by example
A self-assured leader is persuasive and influential. You're more likely to motivate employees to rally behind you and do their best for the company if you can display decisiveness, adjust when things don't go as planned, and believe in your vision.
A leader who is crippled by self-doubt or discouraged by defeats establishes an uneasy tone in the team and can contribute to the disorder. Maintain a steady and cheerful attitude when an issue arises. Although challenging, this is critical, especially when your reputation is at stake. If you find it difficult to maintain or regain positivity, take a moment to remind yourself that you can adjust your thinking. Your attitude is a personal choice, and your team will reflect it. The communal calm that results from turning challenges into unparalleled opportunity is nothing short of inspirational. The more your team witnesses your confidence, the more influence you gain.
Rethinking Management Roles
Try to see yourself as a mentor rather than a boss to increase influence. Persuade rather than entice and lead rather than push with the mentor approach. Employees will respond positively if they believe they are a part of the quality-creation process in your company.
Your ability to resolve conflicts among your employees can help you earn a reputation as a savvy leader. You must learn the managerial talent of accepting two conflicting points of view as valid and understanding the benefits of each opponent's perspective. Finding common ground where individuals who disagree can agree will increase your influence and improve your reputation.
You can also increase influence in the workplace by demonstrating to subordinates that you consider the big picture when dealing with a problem. Employees will understand that their work is important, but you must manage them. You can demonstrate how various jobs interact to make the business run smoothly. This will increase your influence in the workplace.
The ability to get others enthused about your vision is maybe the most effective managerial skill you can develop. When you persuade others that what you've imagined is attainable, they'll rally behind you and fight tirelessly to realize your vision.
Successful leadership requires instilling a sense of dedication in your team. This can be accomplished by motivating and improving your employees' working lives. Understand that the caliber of people you help rise inside the organization plays a role in your success. Recognize someone in your organization who goes above and beyond in their job. Look for and mention their achievements. Your pride in your team's accomplishments drives them, but it also creates profound devotion to you as their leader. In turn, their dedication to you increases your influence on them.
In leadership, giving constructive comments is a method of influence. Subordinates generally value feedback from peers and senior managers if delivered sensitively. Leaders must provide constructive criticism that considers both strengths and flaws while also suggesting ways to improve. As a result, they can persuade their colleagues to take steps to improve their performance. Establishing a quarterly or annual review program can help managers and employees maintain open lines of communication by allowing both to express their thoughts, appreciation, and concerns.
Understanding how to get things done while also embracing the reality of working within organizational politics to move teams and important initiatives forward is important for gaining influence. As much as a leader should adopt all these qualities, they must remain realistic in terms of the organization's needs and not become a servant of wanting influence at the cost of the business.
In conclusion, the idea that an individual is either born with the ability to influence or destined to be insignificant is a myth, and influence can be developed.
This article was written by Tinotenda Shannon Denhere, a consultant at the Industrial Psychology Consultants. She can be contacted at [email protected]
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