There’s a whole host of things we must do to be successful at influence and I’ve discussed many of them in previous posts. At the same time, it’s just as important to understand what not to do in order to be effective at influence.
Here are 3 things people who are successful at influence don’t do:
1. They don’t rely on positional power alone to get them what they want.
Instead, they build relationships at all levels. The need for building relationships has never been more important than it is in today’s global organizations with projects spreading across groups and countries, matrix reporting, and individuals being called to lead teams when they may have no positional authority. Successful influencers develop alliances and connections because positional power only goes so far.
Alliances are the important others whom you join up with to get the results you’re expected to deliver on. Connections are those who can help remove barriers, get your work noticed, and get you in front of key decision-makers. Both contribute significantly to getting your projects moved forward and to your being viewed as an influential leader.
In addition to optimizing visibility, alliances and connections also create information channels, which are important sources for keeping abreast of what’s happening in your network.
2. They don’t ignore office politics.
Successful influencers know that politics at work is inevitable and that politics doesn’t have to mean dirty politics.
If the term politics makes you uncomfortable, think of it this way: Being politically astute gives you access to people and information. The gateway to having this access is in knowing how to manage relationships so that you can get decisions pushed through the right channels in the right way at the right time. Successful influencers never put their head in the sand when it comes to politics.
Being politically aware means knowing who has the power, what power they hold, and how to successfully work with those who have it. It means distinguishing among what leadership considers top priority, mildly important, and trivial, and making their main concerns yours.
Being politically astute also includes being familiar with the unspoken rules in the organization and following them. These rules apply to the way things are done, from how to get things accomplished through formal and informal processes and people, to how to interact effectively with certain personalities, to rules on behavior and dress codes. They vary in each company and can even be different in departments within the same organization.
3. They don’t wing it.
Successful influencers know they have to plan ahead for every influence situation — whether it’s a simple influence case or a complex one.
In simple influence situations involving only one issue, one decision maker, and one conversation, successful influencers know they have to plan their proposal to best align with the decision maker’s concerns. They also have to plan ahead for why the decision maker might say no, and prepare work-arounds for any issues that might arise.
In more complex influence situations involving more than one decision maker, multi-layered issues, multiple conversations, and having the potential to impact many individuals, successful influencers make sure they understand ahead of time what the needs, values, and even communication styles of the decision makers are.
They do a thorough inventory of who influences those decision makers as well as of who will be affected by the proposal. Next, they plan their timing, carefully considering who needs to be approached when and in what order. And they always prepare for why decision makers might say no.
How Do You Approach Influence?
If this isn’t how you’re already approaching influence, my ebook 5 Influence Mistakes that Hold You Back at Work (free to blog subscribers) can help get you closer. And there are more tips for successful influence in my previous posts:
Question: What else do successful influencers do and not do? Do you have a tip to share? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com/Ed Samuel