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Ways to Gain Influential Leadership Skills

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Wed Oct 18 2023

Ways to Gain Influential Leadership Skills
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Influence is vital to shape decisions, behaviors, and outcomes in various contexts. It drives human interaction, enabling individuals to persuade, inspire, and effect change. In personal relationships, influence fosters understanding and cooperation. In business, it drives partnerships, innovation, and ultimately key performance indicators (KPIs). Demonstrated skills such as effective communication and empathy are often at the core of influential leadership, allowing individuals to connect, build trust, drive action, and drive collective outcomes.

Professor of Global Business Raj Sisodia believes, “Every leader should have a coach, and they should have a spiritual life that they are engaged in. It doesn’t have to be religious, but a spiritual inquiry based on understanding your own purpose: what drives you, and why you do what you do” (Thought Leadership Institute). Becoming an influential leader is a transformative journey that empowers you to guide, inspire, and drive change.

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Influential leadership skills enable individuals to guide, inspire, and drive positive change within teams and organizations. A leader’s ability to communicate a compelling vision, gain trust, and motivate others cultivates a collaborative environment where goals are achieved cohesively. Such leaders can rally diverse talent toward a common purpose, making informed decisions while valuing and harnessing individual contributions.

“The only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.”–Dale Carnegie

Influence in High-Stakes Engagements

High-stakes situations occur when the outcomes of a decision have high impact on an individual, organization, or even an entire society. Such instances frequently encompass intricate and uncertain factors, demanding rapid yet astute judgments from leaders despite having only partial data. In these situations, emotional intelligence is highly important. By honing in on influential leadership skills, you are better equipped to handle these high-stakes encounters with a collaborative approach to move others toward the desired outcome.

5 Principles of Influence

There are five important principles, a consolidation of many approaches, to consider when it comes to influence. Itʻs important to remember that influence hinges on understanding that individuals act based on their own motivations. Influence requires a balance of collaboration with others while advocating for the desired outcome that is the most win-win. Remember:

1. People only do things for their reasons, not yours!

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2. Balance: ego (“the enemy of good leadership”), results, relationships.

3. If you don’t ask for what you want, you probably won’t get it.

4. Take 100 percent responsibility for your impact.

5. There are no guarantees.

Examples of high-stakes scenarios:

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  • “I want to show that I am the right person to lead this initiative.”

  • “I need to inspire more people to believe in my project.”

  • “I have a great idea for my organization, but I don’t have the network to make it happen.”

Each scenario relies on quality engagement, relationship building, and impact. Identify key stakeholders and develop a strategy to prove your goal. For example, if you want to prove you are the best person for a certain initiative, first create a plan. What is your desired outcome and the short-term outcome with every interaction until success? What will it take to prove you are the right person? How can you implement these skills into tangible elements that decision makers will notice? How will this initiative positively affect others as you lead? Although you might not be able to demonstrate each of these points in the first or initial engagement, planning for them in advance will further strengthen the influence-building process.

Keep the five principles in mind while you craft your outcomes, plan, and approach.

Setting Goals Toward Desired Outcomes

Previously, we discussed setting goals to develop strategy. Your goal determines the approach to obtaining the desired outcome. The outcome can be one (or several) of the following:

  • They agree intellectually with your idea.

  • They are compelled by your idea.

  • They will comply, whether they are committed or not.

  • They are committed, inspired, enthusiastic, and aligned.

  • You build common ground and strengthen the relationship.

Remember that this may take a few engagements. Once you have the recipe for influence outlined, you will then act on those leadership skills. Setting goals and desired outcomes allows us to be more intentional with our influence.

Exploring Approaches to Influence

When it comes to the art of influencing others, you have a few options, each with its distinct potential. Selecting the approach that resonates most with your outcomes is key. These are the four approaches to influence that we recommend as you continuously build your skills:

1. The right brain, spirit, and vision approach: This route combines common beliefs and shared principles with an alluring vision. By captivating the emotional and visionary aspects, this approach lays a foundation for trust and compelling persuasion.

2. The left brain approach: Anchored in facts and logic, this method hinges on presenting information that holds significance in the eyes of your audience. To create a more compelling argument, you could combine this with the right brain approach, infusing elements that target emotions and evoke the possible outcomes.

3. The gut/center of gravity approach: Here, the emphasis is on assertion and skillful negotiation. By recognizing the core focal points and navigating accordingly, you can establish a persuasive course of action.

4. The heart approach: Forging a path to secure commitment involves asking questions, attentive listening, collaborative efforts, open sharing, and adaptive flexibility.

In your journey to influence effectively, these diverse principles and approaches serve as your instruments, each possessing the capacity to harmonize and gain optimal outcomes. It is also important to assess each engagement in a respective manner of where these tools served or hindered the goal. By delving into their nuances, you can harness their power to sway opinions and shape outcomes that have greater impact.

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