What does it mean to lead with influence? Leading with influence is the ability to facilitate, inspire and motivate a group of people to accomplish a common goal. The ability to achieve desired results through others without intimidation and to create followers who desire to be led are key traits of influential leadership.
The ability to influence outcomes or performance requires more than relying on a leader's innate abilities and job title. Many new organizational leaders assume their position or title automatically gives them influence over the actions, behaviors and opinions of others. New leaders quickly learn that position or rank has little impact on others. The essential leadership skill that differentiates an organizational leader from a manager is influence.
Developing skills and competencies to influence others takes time and practice. Here are 7 essential strategies and tips to help you become an influential leader:
Develop trust with your co-workers. Leaders must be trust-worthy and convey this trait in every interaction. This involves being consistent in your behaviors and actions and keeping your commitments. Saying one thing and doing something else will swiftly and permanently destroy a leader’s credibility and ability to influence.
Know your team or co-workers. Getting to know your co-workers will go a long way toward developing effective, trusting and lasting relationships. This doesn’t mean developing close personal relationships, but it does mean tapping into what motivates them, as well as their career aspirations and accomplishments.
Be authentic. Developing genuine, sincere and honest working relationship helps build credibility and earn respect from others. When co-workers believe they have access to the "real" leader, it reduces fear and feelings of deception.
Develop empathetic listening skills. This skill goes right along with building trust and requires the ability to place yourself in a position to understand the other person’s point of view, their problem and how they feel without judging them. Leaders who practice this skill will ultimately develop trust, cooperation and collaboration from others.
Promote others through mentoring. Other employees who exemplify strong leadership qualities need mentoring and a safe environment to practice leading. Whether its giving them more responsibility or allowing them to lead a project, investing in their future shows your willingness to produce new leaders.
Be a positive force in your environment. Positive behavior is contagious. Leaders who are consistently positive and encourage others are respected and in high demand during crisis or change management situations.