The Key Principals Behind Leadership and Influencing Others

We can all remember an event in our lives where someone persuaded us to do something we didn’t want to do. Or maybe we thought we should do it but it seemed too hard. Somehow that person was able to talk us into doing it, and many times, we are glad we did. Influencing others in a positive way is one of the key principles of leadership. However, figuring out how to do it is not so easy.

The first step is to understand what leadership is and what it is not. Six Sigma defines a leader as one who has purpose and vision, a plan of action, leads by example and has an ability to influence or teach others to become better at what they do. Leadership is not about dictating, commanding or running your business by imposing your will on others.

Marcel Schwantes, CEO of Leadership from the Core, states influence is an empowering process for a leader. You help others achieve their goals, bring out the best in people, put their needs ahead of your own, and help them develop. This is called servant leadership, a technique that increases your ability to influence others and helps your bottom line.


How can you start building influence? According to Schwantes and his servant leadership theory, there are five ways you can start:

  1. Gain the trust of others – Give it before it is earned.
  2. Let go of your ego – Balance personal humility with confidence and resolve.
  3. Demonstrate competence – Be able to understand and communicate your vision and idea.
  4. Inspire others to find their voice – Encourage employees to contribute to the vision.
  5. Develop a cultural identity – Use shared vision, open communication, and community building.

Now that you’ve laid the groundwork for influencing others, what comes next? You may have heard of the 7 I’s for influencing others. These “I” words will give you a map to influencing others effectively and building successful teams.

  1. Identify the results you want. If you don’t have a plan, it is difficult to communicate outcomes. You start by defining the result you want and work backward.
  2. Illustrate your credibility. If you don’t know what you are doing, you can’t expect others to buy-in to the plan. Demonstrate knowledge, consistency, good decision making and accountability.
  3. Invest time to get to know your people. Make personal connections and demonstrate empathy so team members know you care about them and their work.
  4. Invite idea sharing. A team must operate in an atmosphere of trust and communication. Open the door of non-judgmental sharing so improvements can be made and mistakes used as a learning tool.
  5. Investigate common ground among team members. Find ways to achieve this by taking in all ideas and creating a strategy for success.
  6. Intend a win-win outcome. Defining successful outcomes and helping your team visualize them are vital to creating a way to achieve success.
  7. Improvise when needed. Planning and preparation are key, but adapting as you go through the process is necessary. Make sure your team has the tools and autonomy to make adjustments along the way.

In hierarchical organizations, power is equated with influence. In today’s workplace, you need more than just a title or knowledge to influence others. You need the substance and you also need style. Discovery Learning, Inc. created five categories to identify and measure influence styles:

  1. Asserting – Insisting your ideas are heard and challenging other’s ideas
  2. Convincing – Offering your ideas and reasons to convince others of your point of view
  3. Negotiating – Seeking compromises and concessions for the greater good
  4. Bridging – Building relationships and connecting through listening and coalition building
  5. Inspiring – Advocating your position and encouraging others with a shared purpose

Every situation is different, so choose your style accordingly.

How can you increase your influence? Forbes Magazine gives you five steps:

  1. Understand your influencing style
  2. Take stock of your situation
  3. Identify your gaps
  4. Develop the gap areas
  5. Practice influencing in targeted situations

No matter what role you play in your organization, your skills at influencing others will mark you as a leader to be reckoned with in the future.

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