There is a critical skill(or set of skills) that is necessary to achieve and maintain success…
The ability to influence others.
Why is it so important in High Performance Leadership?
Simply stated, we rarely have total or even sufficient authority with all of our areas of responsibility.
Some obvious examples include:
Let me use a Venn diagram to illustrate our dilemma. The top circle represents our authority over others.
The portion where the circles overlap, shows where you have both AUTHORITY and Responsibility.
However, the problems you encounter come from the area where I am responsible but have no authority.
In other words, we can’t create ALIGNMENT and ACTION by simply issuing orders.
Therefore, we must become skilled at INFLUENCE.
We will define influence as enrolling others to think certain ways and take action aligned with goals.
Frankly, if we stop and observe, people are constantly trying to influence others.
There are lots of ways to do it, some good and some bad. Here are a few all too familiar examples of negatively influencing others:
Unfortunately, these are familiar because they are so common.
In my opinion, they are lazy and only create short-term change and damage relationships.
Now let me list the 3 best ways to influence people in both the short term and long term.
I offer these in no particular order because none is better than the others, each works better than others, depending on the situation.
One way to effectively enroll is to communicate a powerful vision.
If the person you’re trying to influence aligns with the vision, it means they are passionate and have been touched mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
There are many examples of this where people are willing to make huge sacrifices personally – like working long hours without extra pay – because they believe in the benefit to the whole organization.
Another option for effective influence is to offer a great idea.
In many, if not most organizations, a unique and creative idea or innovation gets others to stop and consider the possibility of your idea.
It usually doesn’t matter if you are at a high level with lots of authority or not.
A prime example of this comes from the very successful organization 3M.
Because they thrive based on new innovations, some of their best products have been invented by secretaries that saw a need and filled it.
Finally, the easiest and fastest way to influence another is to have a strong, trusting relationship.
If there is trust and respect in a relationship, there is little resistance and wasted time.
Therefore, if you don’t have lots of authority, work at building relationships.
I think I can illustrate all of these methods by telling you an old story, perhaps you’ve heard it before…
There is a young boy at the ocean’s shore who is picking up starfish one at a time and throwing them back into the water.
The beach is covered with thousands of starfish because there has been a big storm.
An old man approaches the boy and asks “What are you doing?”
The young boy simply answers “I’m throwing the starfish back into the water.”
“Why?” asked the old man.
“Because if I don’t, they will dry out and die.” Responds the boy.
“Yes, but there are thousands of them, you can’t make a difference!” Proclaimed the old man.
After listening to the old mans point of view, the young boy bent down, picked up a starfish and threw it back in the water.
He then turned to the old man and said, “It made a difference to that one!”
The old man smiled because he understood.
The young boy then asked “Won’t you please join me?”
The old man began to throw starfish back into the water with the boy.
As other villagers saw them, they too joined in and all the starfish were saved.
The young boy had a great idea and created an aligned vision with influence.
He was a High Performance Leader.