5 tips to level-up your influencing skills to become a truly powerful leader11 Nov 2019
Leaders need excellent influencing skills. The ability to persuade and negotiate allows you to make a powerful impact across your team, clients and other key partners. It also saves you valuable time, energy and stress.
Here are our tips for improving your ability to influence.
5 tips for improving your influencing skills
1) Embrace subtlety and empathy
Few people enjoy being told what to do or why someone else is right. If you take the bossy approach to influencing you likely won't get very far. Instead, present your thoughts and ideas as a form of agreement or compromise. This way the other party see you as a supporter, someone who is championing their corner. In turn this builds trust, and people are far more easily persuaded by someone they like and trust.
I always make a point of showing my support for colleagues by asking them questions. It shows I value their opinion. Of course, you can direct the questions and lead the conversation to show why your opinion is valid and persuade them to agree. You can also mirror their body language and behaviour, where it's positive. People do this subconsciously when they feel comfortable.
2) Learn to listen as well as talk
A key part of building a trustful relationship is showing that you care about the other person's opinions. It shows that you appreciate the bigger picture and are willing to work with others to get the best outcome. You're not just about directing people. Disregarding someone's opinion or talking over them immediately signals you're only there to talk.
For successful conversations, remind yourself to stop and listen whenever you've finished talking. By all means prepare your arguments, but ensure you take in their opinions and reply to what they said. Don't simply say your next rehearsed speech. It might help to practice this in everyday situations before you take on a particularly difficult conversation.
3) Analyse problems before you direct solutions
I've been in many meetings where someone thinks they've got a winning solution but has actually overlooked some critical factors. They look ill-prepared and appear to be rash decision makers, keen to move onto the next issue as quickly as possible. I'm naturally less inclined to value the opinions of these people in future, and certainly won't be influenced by them easily.
So, before you go into any conversation where you want to influence, look critically at the situation you're dealing with. Take into account key deliverables, facts or metrics where appropriate. Ask for further information if you know you're uninformed. Even consider talking to wider colleagues about how your idea will impact them, so you can get a feel for the bigger picture. You'll soon know whether you're on the right tracks.
4) Employ emotional intelligence in all interactions
I know I have to tailor my arguments to the colleagues I'm attempting to influence. However, I also know that the reason I have a good success rate is that I make an effort to get to know people. It's not just the people I'm attempting to persuade. I talk to as many people as possible and take a real interest in their thoughts and feelings. I notice when their behaviour changes.
This feeds into being emotionally intelligent. People who harness this skill are good at reading people, seeing their emotions without the other person having to put them into words. When it comes to influencing, it allows you to see how your argument or idea is being received, and adjust on the spot if needed. Practise reading people in your daily interactions to really improve.
If you would like to improve your influencing skills, consider one of the ICML professional training courses, available for individuals or teams. We offer focused programs in influencing, negotiating, emotional intelligence and more.