The leader with the right influence motivates, helps shape behaviours and makes the necessary changes in a business environment.
What are the strategies or tools in the influence process that make change inevitable and a leader a powerful agent of change?
We are familiar with the carrot-and-stick process — rewards and threats to create change. But is change by these means lasting or authentic? Does it foster loyalty, growth or empowerment?
How can we effect the change that will bring about desirable outcomes in areas ranging from productivity to costs, to quality and overall satisfaction? The answer is through influence.
A skill and a work value
Influence is a skill and a work value we can each learn. We can get others to act differently to achieve results rather than focus on strategies and processes alone, as is often the case.
Work values required for successful leadership must involve “self-observation”, work behaviours and effective interpersonal skills that empower others to succeed and ultimately create a team and environment we envision.
Effective leadership is not just about getting the work done but also about influencing others successfully to get the work done. When accountability is successfully pushed down the organisation in a coherent way, leaders are then able to focus on future objectives instead of day-to-day processes as the team heads towards productivity and early operating results.
According to Dr Albert Bandura, the world’s greatest living psychologist, our behaviour is shaped acutely by observing others.
Influence strategies can be studied, tested and mastered. Humans observe, cogitate, draw conclusions and then act. So if leaders want to influence effectively, they need to change how others behave; to do that, they will need to first change how they think.
This is good news for all of us struggling to be better influencers. The good news is that with continued learning in this aspect, we can each become powerful influencers.
Said American statistician W. Edwards Deming: “It is not enough to do your best, you must know what to do, and then do your best.” As leaders, we must identify vital, high-leverage behaviours, which if accomplished regularly will become routine achievements, and will propel us towards the intended results.
These vital behaviours are the ones we want to influence. They can engender a huge change not only in our lives, but in business and in the people in our workplace.
As a leader, you then stop managing people but you start managing behaviours to achieve your bottom line. Measuring behaviours is scientific, proven, measurable, fast and easy to do.
Dr Bandura’s theory of learning states that people choose their behaviours based on what they think will happen to them as a result. Changing the maps of cause and effect, in short, is absolutely necessary.
Finally, before you can attempt as a great influencer to create change in your organisation’s bottom line by changing behaviours, address the status of your relationships with your people, that is, your interpersonal skills.
Being considered trustworthy and caring, as well as respected for your expertise in the field, is essential. People who are respected and connected to their fellow personnel exert an enormous amount of influence in an organisation.
How often do you “catch up”, even if it is just for a few minutes in the lift or walking towards the pantry? By simply asking a colleague, “How are you?”, you might hear in response: “I am not too bad, although I did not sleep well for the past three days as a family member is in the hospital. She is better but it’s been a long tiring ride.”
This seemingly insignificant conversation is vital. It gives you information to follow up on and create a “relationship” with this team member, who in turn will feel more positive towards you: “My boss has a heart, she is caring and she is probably trustworthy too.”
Take note too, that this connection with others also means your mood and behaviours drive the moods and behaviours of everyone else.
To end, here are some words to live by from golf legend Arnold Palmer: “It’s a funny thing, the more I practise, the luckier I get.”
Article by Lakhvinder Kaur, senior consultant, Training Edge International. She focuses on coaching, EQ in the workplace, networking, leadership, problem-solving and more. Contact her at Lakhvinder@trainingedgeasia.com or visit www.trainingedgeasia.com