Didn’t it happen that you had the greatest ideas along with necessary credentials and relevant experience to impress your boss but he hardly listened? You may think he is a jerk or an idiot not to understand or appreciate your ideas. But the truth probably is that your boss is not an idiot. What he is missing is your influence.
Influence could be the most powerful weapon in your hands when you deal with your superiors. Influence is the vehicle through which your message is carried upon. It is the packaging that wraps around your core message. Without a carrying vehicle or proper packaging, you run the risk of your message getting lost in transition.
In our communications and negotiations we over zealously endeavor to convince our point of view using lengthy arguments. What we don’t realize is that a little bit of influence may go a long way even without the need of much logic and reasoning. If you are able to create influence in your relationship with your boss, the communication can become much more effective and meaningful.
To build up and enhance your influence on your boss and other superiors, follow this simple 5-step approach:
1. Establish your Authority:
Your formal authority may be limited as defined by your position or title but your informal authority could be unlimited based on your knowledge and expertise. When people know your potential they start to give you the due respect and treat you as an expert. Let the world know about your credentials, background and relevant experiences. Boldly and aggressively describe your achievements and accomplishments on your LinkedIn profile and invite your seniors and other colleagues to connect. They are sure going to notice it and respect your expertise.
2. Create a Personal Brand:
Distinguish yourself from others. Stand out from the crowd. Dress decently. Create an admirable lifestyle. Prepare well before going to meetings and speak selectively and distinctly. Behave and communicate in a highly professional manner. Setup your workspace in clean and professional manner. Arrive at work 15 minutes early and leave at least 30 minutes late. Do all these things in such a manner that people start to notice you differentiated from others.
3. Develop your Emotional Intelligence (EQ):
Emotional Intelligence is one of the most powerful skills of great leaders. It’s about self-awareness with a deep connection to the feelings and emotions of others. While IQ takes you through the college, EQ takes you through the career. Unfortunately, despite the critical importance of this leadership skill we do not usually get any formal training. Some people are naturally gifted in this skill but most are not. Good news is that it is a developable skill. Read a few articles on Emotional Intelligence or read the book ‘Emotional Intelligence at Work’ by Weisinger. Practice using emotional intelligence by trying to connect with people at emotional level.
4. Build your Relationship:
You don’t sell your products or services to your customers; you sell relationship. That is the power of relationship. It dominates the emotional side or the right brain and blindfolds our logical mind. With strong relationship you can turn people in your favor even without logic. Develop and nurture at least 10 strategic relationships with key position holders at your work and relentlessly invest your energy into it. To fully leverage the benefit from these relationships, build these to a level that most organization see you as privileged having those strong relations with key position holders.
5. Become a Thought Leader:
Become an expert in your domain of work. Read at least one new book a month or regularly subscribe to several new blogs and articles. Develop some strategic thinking and challenge and question some conventional wisdom. Openly share your viewpoint in conversations or through writing a blog. Not everybody will agree with your views but most will respect you for your innovative thoughts.
Influence cannot be developed overnight. It’s hard work and demands patience and persistence. It’s also tricky. Over-dose or under-dose of your efforts in a particular area my ruin all of your hard work. The key is gradual step-by-step improvement with a constant feedback system preferably through the help of a trusted mentor.