Influence: it’s the power or ability to personally affect others’ actions, decisions, opinions, or thinking.
Ultimately, it allows you to get things done and achieve desired outcomes.
On one level, influence is about compliance — getting someone to do what you want them to do (or at least not to undermine your goals) — but genuine commitment from other people is often required for you to accomplish key goals and tasks.
On another level, influence is about working effectively with people over whom you have no authority. It requires the ability to present logical and compelling arguments and engage in give-and-take. In senior-level or executive roles, influence is focused more on steering long-range objectives, inspiration, and motivation.
We have found that influencing tactics fall into one of 3 categories: logical, emotional, or cooperative. Or better put, think of it as influencing with head, heart, and hands:
- Logical appeals tap into people’s rational and intellectual positions. You present an argument for the best choice of action based on organizational benefits, personal benefits, or both.
- Emotional appeals connect your message, goal, or project to individual goals and values. An idea that promotes a person’s feelings of well-being, service, or sense of belonging has a good chance of gaining support.
- Cooperative appeals involve collaboration (What will you do together?), consultation (What ideas do other people have?), and alliances (Who already supports you or has the credibility you need?). Working together to accomplish a mutually important goal extends a hand to others in the organization and is an extremely effective way of influencing.
To maximize your personal influence, you’ll want to become skilled in all 3 styles. Try out these new influence tactics in low-risk situations first, so you can practice skills 1-on-1. As you become more versatile, you’ll gain confidence in influencing teams or larger groups.
Decide which tactics will draw the most support for a specific task or strategy and employ one or more approaches as you need to. You might be more influential than you realize.
Do you influence best with your head, heart, or hands? Consider how you’ve been able to expand your influencing tactics within your organization, and proactively identify where you can improve for greater results.
If you want to learn more, influence is one of the key skills taught in our flagship Leadership Development Program.