There is no doubt that we are living in the age of influence. Whether it’s an individual, a brand, a political party or a movement, everyone wants the power to be able to influence others; and why wouldn’t they?
Influence is a powerful tool that can sway, motivate, and transform worldviews and ideologies, as well as tie hearts and minds to you or your brand for a lifetime.
But for individuals that currently feel like they’re sitting at the bottom of the influence barrel in their company, whether by skill, awareness or just lack of confidence, this can often feel like an unrealistic goal.
Having spent the last decade training different levels of staff amongst a wide range of companies, I have found five simple strategies that can be used to establish influence within an organisation, and help you take the next step up the corporate ladder.
Pick your ’12 seats at the table’
Growing up, I had 10 siblings, so sitting around at a table was literally like a scene from Cheaper By the Dozen. Every night, I would be surrounded by 12 family members who loved and supported me, but also kept me aligned to our family standards and values.
Over time I was able to take this experience and turn it into the perfect metaphor for growing leaders. Wherever you are in your role or company, stop right now to think about the 12 most important attributes, beliefs, and strengths you embody.
Write them down on a list if you need to but think about what the 12 non-negotiable values for you are as a professional. They could be honesty, mentorship, or something completely individual like being known as the funny one in a room.
Got them written down? Good. Now go forth with these key values at your core, as they will become pivotal to the actions you take every day.
If you remain true to these values and do not sway, soon people will recognise and respect you for where you choose to place your effort and time.
Re-shape your focus
Now that you’ve got your 12 seats at the table, you can start thinking about re-shaping your focus so you can go forth and start growing your influence.
One of the biggest misconceptions I hear from people, is that because they might be in a junior role, it means they can’t be influential.
Ironically, it’s this attitude that actually is a set-back for influence. If you view yourself as small, junior, or insignificant in your team, this will inevitably impact the way people treat you and rely on you for insight.
If you want to be an influential leader, make sure that you don’t limit your skills or opinion, and ensure that you match this up with productive and results-driven work.
Embrace feedback & offer it in return
No matter who you are or what level of employment you’re in, feedback is one of the best ways to analyse your success and growth within a business – as well as provide helpful learnings for how you can continue to upskill.
You will find that most great world leaders take on board continual feedback and have a trusted advisory team that are not afraid to call them out.
However, one thing that will truly set you apart when you are looking to establish influence, is to offer feedback in return. By offering constructive feedback within a safe environment, you will demonstrate to others that you have ideas for improvement and care about the business goals.
Infuse some charisma into your daily routine
I know what you’re thinking; charisma doesn’t always equal great leadership. While to some extent that is true, think about which leaders you naturally gravitate towards.
Are they introverted and lacking in confidence? Or do they ooze natural charm and are highly personable? A charismatic person naturally draws others to them and their mission, and has no issue standing up for what they believe in.
While your character and values should take precedence over confidence, there is no harm in building your charisma so other people will stop and take notice.
Some great ways you can do this include:
- Take more public speaking opportunities
- Challenge yourself to speak up in meetings
- Do something quirky to inspire conversation i.e. the guy who wears funky socks every day!
- Go out of your way to teach your colleagues skills you might be more proficient in
Don’t be afraid to get personal
Nearly two decades ago, I was in a horrible head-on collision with a truck. Pronounced dead on the scene, thankfully paramedics were able to revive me, however I lost my right arm to the accident, and now also have a permanent disability in my leg.
After I had recovered, I was asked to share my story with a local youth group. In that moment I had a split decision to make. Did I share the painful story with a bunch of strangers, or did I choose to hide away and pretend it never happened?
Well, I’m so glad I went forward with the opportunity, because I soon realised people were influenced and inspired by my story.
Getting personal doesn’t mean you need to share all the nitty-gritty details of your life with colleagues; but people can’t help but be drawn to leaders who are honest, transparent and share their personal stories and failures with others.
Getting personal allows people to see your true character and know what you believe in. So, if you have stories to share, capitalise on them. If you have learnings or failures you can be open about, don’t be afraid to discuss them.
This will quickly help you earn the respect of both junior and senior team members and establish trust for future.