When leading others, managers can make the mistake of relying on either their legitimate power— the power bestowed upon them to make decisions that govern others actions, or coercion — the ability to take something away. While power through authority is an important component to leading others, great leaders know that it’s really their ability to influence others based on their personal power that brings success.
Influence is the power to have an important effect on someone or something. If someone influences someone else, they are changing a person or thing in an indirect but important way. In the workplace, leaders need to effectively influence others to follow them, take their advice, and help them to achieve their goals which can often be a challenge when entering a new organization. Here are ways in which they can build their influence and drive impact:
Show that they have strong integrity
Can they be trusted? Should I believe in them? These are questions that employees will ask themselves when deciding on whether to comply with or resist directives. People want to follow someone with an authentic moral compass. They value a leader who is honest, even in tough situations, and who has clear intentions that go above their own self interests. Leaders can communicate this through high ethical standards, consistency in their messaging, and an understanding that they will do what they say they are going to do. Effective leaders should always put their people first, the mission second, and themselves last. This will increase employees’ respect and belief that they will lead them in the right direction, even through rough waters.
Establish credibility through knowledge and expertise
No one will follow a leader in whom they do not feel confident. A leader’s credibility relies heavily on their past experience. Have they learned from both their mistakes and successes to lead others into the future? Do they have the skills and knowledge necessary to perform their job well? For this reason, successful leaders are always learning. While taking advantage of opportunities for themselves, they should also promote professional development and cross-training for those who report to them. A culture that encourages ongoing learning and development will foster collaboration and innovation. At the same time, investing in building employees’ capabilities should positively impact retention and engagement, keeping employees excited and motivated to perform to their ever-evolving roles.
Build meaningful connections
One of the most powerful sources of influence is connection. Leaders should seek to understand their teams’ needs, motivations, and values with an authentic approach. They should ask for employees’ input and include them in decision-making, when appropriate. They should make the effort to see things from their employees’ point of view and take in feedback without becoming defensive. It’s also important for leaders to get to know their employees’ challenges and long-term goals, and communicate their desire to invest in their careers within the company. The more they invest in their people and lift them toward their potential, the more likely their employees will view them as a valued leader.
Stepping into a new company can be a challenging transition for not only that person, but the individuals they will manage. It is critical they set the right first impression and convey confidence to their team. If properly channeled, positive influence can bring about great change as individual actions align with group efforts to produce gains that grow exponentially. A leader, who, through focused and deliberate effort, exerts positive influence on others, will build trust and become a true driving force toward excellence.
To assist your organization’s leaders in building their influence, check out our Onboarding Coaching for Newly Hired Leaders.