“How to influence someone” is a topic that’s repeatedly put on the table by leaders I coach.
By the way, this is a revamp of an edition of a Leadership Bulletin I published a couple of years ago. Because many readers told me they found it so useful, I decided to give you the opportunity to take another look at it…
You’ve undoubtedly noticed that, these days, little longer-term good occurs if you use a command and control approach, right?
Most of your leadership success comes because you’re able to positively influence people conversationally—especially when it comes to motivating your team members to deliver discretionary effort.
So, what is THE key to effectively influencing people?
Know Your Targeted Outcome
I keep being impressed with how great leaders have so much clarity about their intended outcomes. They seem to know what they’re targeting from every conversation, from every meeting, from every activity.
On the other hand, when I ask leaders I’m coaching “What’s your targeted outcome from the conversation that you need to have?” Their response, nearly every time, falls into one of two categories, the first being…
“Well, now that I think about it, I’m not sure what I’m targeting.”
Joanne leads a team of insolvency experts. She’s repeatedly concerned about the quality of Phillip’s reports.
Although they’re generally OK technically, he doesn’t use the English language well…there are many grammatical errors, even misused words.
Joanne’s put off having a conversation with Phillip because she didn’t really know how to approach him—because she wasn’t clear on her intention, her targeted outcome.
Sure, she wanted him to write better reports, but in talking about Joanne’s situation with her, it was clear
that she had the outdated view that giving feedback is being critical.
No wonder she’d put off this having the conversation, and consequently not created an opportunity to be influential with Phillip.
Before we talk about Joanne’s way forward, let’s look at the second category of responses I often hear…
An Unrealistic Outcome
In Joanne’s case, when I encouraged her to clarify her outcome from her conversation with Phillip, she said it was “To have him use the English language correctly.”
When I asked Joanne if she thought this was a realistic targeted outcome from a first-up conversation, she of course said no, it wasn’t realistic.
For Joanne, Being Influential Just Got A Whole Lot Easier
I helped her devise an achievable outcome for her conversation with Phillip…
She decided it was to have a dialogue with him about where they each thought his reports were on-track, and where they each thought they were less on track—rather than Joanne simply letting him know that “he needed to fix his use of English in his reports”.
And, I’m pleased to say that as a result, Joanne had a constructive and influential conversation with him.
With a clear, realistic outcome, she easily, without hesitation, spoke about how she perceived he used the English language and they jointly devised a plan that would enhance his report writing.
Your Leadership Call to Action
One of the hallmarks of a great leader is that they’re always clear on their outcomes—what they’re targeting from each of their conversations and activities…
Here’s your task…
Think about the conversations and activities you have on your plate today, and this week…
How much clarity do you have about each of your outcomes? What’s your intention for each conversation? If you have clarity on your outcome, do you think it’s realistic?
To pursue this line of thought, and to develop your capacity to be more influential, shoot me off an email to arrange a conversation with me. We’ll get clear about your particular challenges and lay out a step-by-step plan for you to master this critical leadership proficiency.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.