How to Build Your Influence in the Workplace
The most effective leaders in the workspace are skilled influencers. Whether you know it or not, you are influencing people at work every day—perhaps more than you may even realize. For some, it comes naturally, while others have to work at refining the art of influencing others. Before we dive into a few ways to improve on this leadership skill, let’s define it:
Influence: (noun) the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something.
Positive leadership and influence begin with first focusing on your own behaviors—not working to change others and their behaviors. Successful influencers attract people to them by being someone others like and respect. Respect is often an overlooked superpower that leads to greater influence—and, although your authority may come with your job, the power to use it must be earned.
So, how do you earn this power? How do you influence in your work space?
1/ Create Genuine Connections
Start by building good rapport and relationships with your colleagues. Ask yourself – “Am I consistent, approachable, positive, affable, trustworthy, a person of character and integrity or someone who is standoffish, pessimistic, and generally not to be trusted?” The more comfortable and welcomed people feel around you, the more susceptible they will be to receiving your guidance and influence.
2/ Listen – Don’t Try to Convince
Make sure colleagues know they are heard. Actively listen and be engaged in all conversations and discussions. Seek out meaningful ways to serve others in your organization to show you’re listening. When people feel their voices and opinions are welcomed by you, they are more open to your perspectives and advice. Not to mention, this builds serious credibility.
3/ Be Mindful of Body Language & Tone
This is huge! Whether in person or on a virtual meeting, body language is incredibly telling – it sends a hidden message and emotion around the discussion topic. Your tone and body language can set the stage for the entire conversation. For instance, arms crossed or a tense stance may show hesitation or discomfort. Whereas, open arms and a positive tone show you are ready to embrace what your colleagues have to say. Standing up straight with your shoulders back helps you appear more confident and receptive.
4/ Practice Intellectual Humility
Seek out different perspectives on issues important in the workplace. Be curious. Be willing to be informed and be willing to be wrong. Practicing intellectual humility sends a message to your peers and other leaders that you seek knowledge, desire to learn, and respect others’ opinions. Consciously choosing to be open and listening for possibilities allows for deeper learning and the ability to see new opportunities.
Intellectual Humility is not easy to learn and practice consistently. However, it is an attractive and admirable trait. Your colleagues will sense your lack of criticism and will feel more comfortable communicating openly with you. They will seek you and your opinion out.
5/ Motivate Your Colleagues
Finally, be an enthusiastic encourager! Even the most introverted worker likes to feel noticed and appreciated. Expressing gratitude is a great way to draw people to you. If you’re unsure what really motivates your employees, a behavioral-backed assessment can unveil what people seek and expect from their current job. Find out if their expectations are being met and what you can do to influence positive change to make a difference.
LEADERSHIP TAKEAWAY: Influence is a very lucrative asset in the business world and beyond. Gaining influence has a lot to do with your likeability. The tips we offer are small changes that can really improve how people are drawn to you and value your opinion, and in-turn, your ability to influence them.
Reach out to discuss how we can help you, too.
Dr. Cheri Rainey is the CEO/Founder of Rainey Leadership Learning, partnering with leaders to support the entire employee life cycle.