Elite Executive column: Top Attributes to Successfully Influence Others
Influence is power. No matter who you are, where you work, or what your professional goals are, achieving more influence in the workplace is critical for success.
Gaining influence on a team can help you work together more effectively. Gaining influence in a supervisory position can make you more respected and appreciated. Gaining influence in a meeting can make your voice more likely to be heard and acknowledged.
Influence has countless advantages, but gaining that influence, like learning a skill, takes time and effort.
Fortunately, there are many strategies you can use to cultivate this characteristic.
Competence and Credibility
If you are looking for credibility, take a long hard look in the mirror and get a clear view on what values you can bring to the table. Do you have proven competence in a particular area of expertise or do you just dabble in it? Are you actively leveraging your skill set and knowledge to benefit or add value to others? And is that benefit recognised and respected by your peers? It’s not enough to think you’re good at something, your contributions need to be palpable and held in high regard by others.
We’ve all seen it when a person of influence walks into the room, there is zero question about their ability to deliver, they know their stuff and their competence and credibility speak volumes. Is this you?
Do you have confidence? Are you an expert in your field? Do YOU believe that you are? If you don’t believe in yourself, it may be difficult for another to believe in you. Arrogance is not confidence. Confidence is the ability to draw others to you and arrogance is the blatant pretence that most will recognise and walk away from within moments of meeting you. When you are certain of the value you bring, there is no need to overcompensate.
Notice how you present yourself at a meeting, networking event or conference. What does your body language tell you about yourself? Every single time I am attending an event or about to speak, I repeat a few mantras privately to myself, I hold my shoulders back, lift my head up and smile!
It doesn’t matter how successful, valued or confident you are, if you don’t care about the people you are engaging with you will not succeed. Listen. Ask questions. Look a person in the eye and genuinely care about what they are saying.
“Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives” – Oprah Winfrey
Charismatic leaders are often the most influential, rapport is a powerful tool that can be leveraged to connect with virtually anyone. As humans, we have an innate, almost primal desire to connect with each other. That desire, however, does not always translate in every day interactions. To be successful you must genuinely connect with someone. Focus on them and listen. When people feel connected to you, they will be a customer for life!
This is essential in any business and for any leader. You may have the gift of the gab and be able to attract all the right people to you, but if you are not consistent in what you do and how you do it, people will walk away. Talk the talk and walk the walk.