Leaders have to handle increasingly diverse teams, and manage expectations and aspirations. Influence, not rank, determines survival and success in the corporate landscape.
Here are five influence styles that help to foster trust and motivation:
Candour. A candid person is open and honest when communicating with others. An open environment quickly exposes deep-seated concerns and uncovers motives.
A managing director once shared with me how he flushed out politics in the organisation. Instead of dealing with people privately and risk misunderstandings born from fabricated stories or half-truths, he sat his team members down to speak their minds openly in front of all parties.
This is a step towards a positive work environment built on trust and open communication, not hidden agendas.
Likeability. Being likeable helps you build near-instant rapport with others, even when they have different personalities, interests and motivations from you. People who like you are more receptive to your opinions and decisions. It helps you to garner support more easily, especially when you are proposing a significant change.
The key to being liked is to like others first. People are not concerned with what you know till they know that you care. One manager shared with me how she sets aside one day each week to lunch with different team members at their favourite restaurant. They open up to her much more than they would in the office.
Like people first and things will move forward with less resistance.
Be a champion. A champion galvanises the people around him to bring about change. Having a cause helps to rally people together to work towards a common goal.
Blake Mycoskie, founder of Toms Shoes, started a one-for-one movement where the company would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. This inspired not only the company’s employees, but also customers who made it possible to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of children.
A cause helps to create the momentum and enthusiasm needed for real change. So, champion a cause.
Individualisation. Individualisation is the genuine interest in the personalities and desires of others. It is a powerful influence style.
Seeing people as individuals gives you a deeper sense of their motivations. Instead of connecting with your team only at the annual performance review, take time to understand their inclinations towards work and life.
People thrive when they see value in what they do. By aligning what inspires and motivates people to the end goal, you help your team be at their productive and personal best.
Service. The concept of “servants as leaders” or servant leadership, initially propagated by Robert K. Greenleaf, is a transformational approach where the business leaders give priority to the needs of others, serving them instead of leading them in the classical sense.
Servant leaders see themselves as humble stewards of the organisation’s resources and put other people’s interests above their own. If you want to inspire gratitude in people in your organisation, take on the influencing style of servant leadership.
The styles described above provide a powerful alternative to the archaic model of hierarchical leadership, that is, ruling by authority. Put any one of the styles into practice, and then see the difference.