Influence is a critical tool leaders have to create alignment and build commitment across diverse constituents. OnPoint Consulting's research has found that there are eleven influence techniques and the most effective leaders leverage four core influencing strategies to gain secure buy-in for their proposals:
- Reason: Use logical arguments and factual evidence to explain why completing a task is necessary.
- Inspire: Appeal to a person’s values and ideals to create enthusiasm around a proposal.
- Consult: Collect input and suggestions to improve the quality of a proposal and increase ownership.
- Collaborate: Reduce the difficulty of the plan by offering to provide relevant resources or assistance.
Why is Influence Important as a Leader?
People often believe that they need to be the most senior person to exert influence and persuade others to do what needs to be done. This is a myth. Power and influence in the workplace is not a function of organizational hierarchy alone. In fact, in many of today’s flattened organizations, leaders often do not possess the authority to simply impose decisions on others.
Effective influencers understand what is important to the other person both from an organizational perspective (goals, business challenges, and what they are trying to accomplish) and at a personal level (values, beliefs, and style). This knowledge helps them better position their proposal or idea with the other person or group.
Influence and Persuasion in Leadership
Much like building trust and commitment, effective influencing doesn’t just happen automatically. Developing personal relationships, establishing credibility, and building trust are the foundation for gaining buy-in. Day-to-day actions lay the groundwork for being able to influence a colleague, boss, or direct report when the time comes. If a leader waits until the moment they need to influence someone to establish credibility or build a relationship, it is too late.
In global organizations, working with a geographically dispersed team means leaders will often be influencing others from a distance. In order to be able to work together to achieve team goals and objectives, building trust, credibility, and accountability between team members is critical. Virtual leaders who learn how to effectively influence others from a distance will undoubtedly have more success in building and managing productive remote teams.
A leader's success depends on the ability to build consensus among people who often have competing priorities or conflicting goals. While the four influencing strategies mentioned earlier are the most effective means of securing buy-in, they are not the only means of influencing others. In some instances, other strategies may have to be used, either as a last resort or due to mitigating circumstances
OnPoint Consulting’s interactive influencing guide outlines the fundamentals of effective influencing behaviors, identifies when to use them, and explains how influencing others varies across cultures and gender. Based on extensive research, this guide provides a good first step for leaders and team members looking to become better influencers.