We're talking about building your influence this month. Last week, I explained why you need an influential network. This week, I want to help you zero in on what kind of influencer you want to be. "Being influential" can mean different things to different people. These questions will help you take stock of what you want your influence to look like in the context of your own leadership style.
What do you want others to say about how you influence others?This is a variation of the question I ask clients when I help them define their leadership brand. What are the top three things you'd want someone else to say if they were describing your influence style to someone else? A few examples to spark your thinking: You are thoughtful (you bring relevant information forward). You focus on win/win approaches. You have the other party’s best interest at heart.
What kinds of decisions do you want to influence? We all have our strengths. What types of decisions could you more easily influence today based on how others view your strengths? These could include shaping vision, defining strategies, making changes to business operations or staffing decisions. What types of decisions would be harder for you to influence?
Whom do you want to influence? In addition to clarifying your realm of influence, take time to define whom you want to influence. In other words, do you want to be viewed as more of an external thought leader with clients or other leaders in your industry? Or do you want to influence others inside your organization such as peers, direct reports and company leaders? Even if it is a mix of both, defining your target audience will help you build influence faster.
What are your goals as an influencer? Whether you want to build influence in an area where others don’t see you as a key influencer today or one where you are already recognized as an expert, it helps to set concrete goals. For example, how long would it realistically take you to build the knowledge and track record needed to exert the influence you want to have? Whom do you need to engage along the way? To focus your efforts, define two or three small steps along with deadlines. Once you’ve completed those steps, define the next two or three. This will help you move forward without feeling overwhelmed.
Spend some time this week thinking about these questions and how to show influence in a way that fits your own leadership style. To help you further build your influence at work, check out our Leadership EDGE SeriesSM booklet on Building Influence or get the complete set for bigger savings.