You need to sell ideas and motivate others. Sometimes, you make the case for your own ideas. Other times, you pitch the ideas of others on your team or the decisions made by higher-ups. Always, you need to influence.
The ability to influence is needed at every point in an organization, but it’s a particular challenge for individual contributors and first-time managers. In one CCL analysis of 360-degree feedback of first-time managers, influence was the No. 1 skill gap, according to the bosses and peers of these first-time managers. It’s a highly important skill needed to be successful, yet managers were rather ineffective at doing it.
To develop the ability to influence others, pay attention to how you currently try to persuade. And watch how effective leaders around you manage to get people nodding their heads and rolling up their sleeves to help out.
Gary Yukl has researched and described a variety of influence tactics — we draw on his work in our programs for individual contributors and for first-time and front-line managers. Here are the 4 core tactics that are used most and work best (you’ll want to learn the others, too — we talk about 7 more in our programs).
Rational Persuasion. You use logical arguments and factual evidence to persuade the someone that a proposal or request is viable and likely to result in the attainment of task objectives.
Inspirational Appeal. You make a request or proposal that inspires someone’s enthusiasm by appealing to their values, ideals, and aspirations, or by increasing their self-confidence.
Consultation. You seek the someone’s participation in planning a strategy, activity or change where their support or assistance is desired. You may also modify a proposal to deal with their concerns and suggestions.
Collaboration. You provide assistance or necessary resources to help them carry out a request or approve a proposed change.
Another way to think about the ways to influence is head, heart, hands, legs — logic, emotion, partnering, and action. The more versatile you are — and aware of how different people respond to different types of persuasion — the more effective you will be.
Leaders who effectively use these influencing skills can achieve their goals and objectives more successfully than leaders who lack that ability, regardless of where they sit in the organization. So if you’re early on in your career or aspiring to a bigger leadership role, learn it now and practice often.