To lead well, you need influence. Over the years, I've found that truly influential people have these four things in common.
1. They Demonstrate Credibility
This is the big one. Influence starts with credibility. Without it, you can’t effectively influence, no matter what approach you take. If you’re not sure whether others see you as credible, seek some feedback. If you hear questions about your credibility, correct them by helping others see your strengths and the value you bring. If you’re like many high performers, you may underestimate the positive impact you have. So, take the time to identify and share examples of how you consistently add value, in a way that’s relevant for the audience.
2. They See the Big Picture
Influential people are known for bringing a lot to table — intelligence, insight, etc. But you also have to be known as someone who’s not just in it for yourself. Connect what you do to the big picture of what’s right for the organization. If you speak just about your (or your department’s) goals and priorities, others may wonder whether your motivation is self-serving. That can quickly erode your credibility.
3. They Build Relationships
All organizations have formal leaders whose power ties to their positions. But they also have informal leaders who shape what really gets done. Your influence depends on the strength of your relationships with both formal leaders and informal leaders. Take a few minutes to review and assess these.
4. They Act Strategically
Influential people are strategic about how they leverage and engage others. For example, how often do you hold the “meeting before the meeting” to get buy-in from others and avoid surprises? Have you thought through the right messenger for advancing your goals? Sometimes it isn’t you. Look at what you do today, and small tweaks you could make to bring others along more effectively.
To learn more about building influence and other key career skills, check out my Leadership EDGE SeriesSM.