You need to sell ideas and motivate others. Sometimes, you make the case for your own ideas. Other times, you pitch your colleagues’ ideas or decisions made by higher-ups. Always, you need to influence.
The ability to influence is necessary no matter your role, 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. Influence is a highly important skill for success, yet managers proved ineffective.
To develop your ability to influence others, pay attention to how you currently try to persuade. Watch how effective leaders around you manage to get people nodding their heads and rolling up their sleeves to help out.
Professor 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. While our programs cover 11 overall influencing tactics, these are the 4 core tactics that are the most common and the most effective:
1. Rational Persuasion: You use logical arguments and factual evidence to persuade someone that a proposal or request is viable.
2. 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.
3. Consultation: You seek 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.
4. 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 (logic), heart (emotion), hands (partnering), and legs (action). The more versatile you are — and the more aware of how different people respond to different types of persuasion — the more effective you’ll 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 an organization. So if you’re early on in your career or aspiring to a bigger leadership role, learn these approaches now and practice often.
Learn more about how you can influence others and maximize your leadership potential.