Sure, Dr. Evil and Darth Vader had their unique ways of influencing others (think giant laser or floating torture droid), but true leadership isn’t a show of authority. It’s a set of behaviors anyone can demonstrate that are about influencing others to achieve shared goals. However, that doesn’t mean using the skills of influence is easy. It takes practice.
Here are five foundational skills of influence for leaders:
Skill #1: Build trust and strong rapport
Start by creating authentic personal connections with others on your team. Before they’ll listen to you, people have to like and trust you. Take the time to get to know your colleagues. What drives them? What are their hobbies? What matters most to them? This type of connection-building isn’t a one-and-done thing. It takes effort over time.
Skill #2: Explain the “why”
When sharing a recommendation with your team, make sure you explain the reasoning behind it, and how it fits into the bigger picture. This will ensure others will actually buy in.
Skill #3: Tap into what matters to them
The most influential leaders know how to connect the interests and priorities of individual team members with the wider goals of the group. People are much more likely to act on things that they resonate with personally.
Skill #4: Ask questions and listen actively
Open-ended questions that start with “what” and “how” fuel dialogue and mutual understanding. Get really curious about how others see situations, and listen actively to their responses. This will then get them interested in your perspective.
Skill #5: Learn the art of assertiveness
By the way, being assertive doesn’t mean being aggressive. You can learn to speak up and share an opposing view with tact and diplomacy. To start, be aware of your tone and body language, and pause to think of your words carefully before speaking.
So, which of these 5 skills of influence for leaders are you going to practice first?