Have you noticed that in the leadership literature, influence is often considered as a skill or “soft skill” to be acquired. Influencing your organisation is about developing more trust with your team or partners, expanding your network to spread your ideas and promote your projects or achievements. In short, do more, more, and more … And if you do more, you will become great and be able to influence, little beetle …
This way of thinking demonstrates once again that companies often remain in a logic of capitalisation. In the same way that we capitalise on knowledge or experience, we capitalise on our ability to influence. However, in my opinion, we can be good influencers regardless of our position and/or seniority. Because there is a big difference between HAVING influence and BEING an influencer. In the first case, it is indeed an additional soft skill, in the second case, it is a state of mind that is becoming more and more prized by recruiters. So, what does it mean to be an influencer ?
Linkedin recently published the most sought-after soft skills for companies in 2019 (read HERE). Here are the top 5:
- Team Spirit
- Emotional Intelligence
I think that if we had wanted to make the portrait of the good influencer, we wouldn’t have been able to define him with more accurate characteristics, don’t you think?
So let’s take all these soft skills and see how an influencer applies them at work.
Developing emotional intelligence or being a good listener ?
An influencer connects with others. To do this, the influencer takes a listening posture. Being a listener avoids being either in a high posture (judging the other person) or in a low posture (waiting for the other person’s appreciation). Our emotional intelligence superpowers are activated.
Being adaptable or being well aware of your environment ?
To influence, you have to know how to communicate… It’s a great cliché ! In concrete terms, what does this mean ? It means knowing how to adapt your communication to your interlocutor, or more precisely to the relationship you have with him/her… Is he a helper you would like to put on your side ? Is he a customer to satisfy ? Does he have expectations that are contrary to your own ? Being aware of and formalising the forces of support and resistance in your environment is an effective way to adapt your communication. A systemic coach can facilitate this work effectively.
Persuading is good, getting on board is even better !
Knowing how to adapt also means developing a certain amount of empathy that will allow you to put yourself in the shoes of the person you are talking to in order to understand their expectations, doubts and fears. If you have developed your emotional intelligence and your ability to adapt, persuasion will follow. I dislike nothing so much as the phrase “develop your persuasiveness”. People often associate influencers and manipulators. This is not the case: the influencer suggests where the manipulator will ultimately impose his solution. The influencer certainly persuades, but this is a consequence of the work he does to get people around him on board.
Working in teams or co-constructing ?
The influencer is therefore a driving force in a group. This does not mean that he/she has the highest position or the most prominent personality in the team. Moreover, the influencer is not always well regarded by his/her superior (who may sometimes feel threatened). Indeed, the influencer is naturally recognised because he is able to find the right solution. But he does not come up with it alone ! The influencer co-constructs his solutions by listening to the contributions of others. This is also why they are so good at persuading. The little difference of the influencer is his ability to find solutions out of the box, the one that we would not have thought of at first.
Being creative or understanding your failucres ?
Influencers learn from others but also from their past experiences. They know how to analyse their successes but also their failures. In the world of work, we are considered as ” wise intellectuals”: as soon as we do not succeed in our tasks, it is considered as a failure by others but also (and sometimes above all!) by ourselves. In childhood we are seen as “learners”, we grow through our experiences. The influencer knows how to take on the posture of the learner. And as the influencer works in a team, he or she will easily be able to alert the group by saying: “Be careful, we are not where we should be, let’s take a step back and look at things a little differently by considering what the failures we have encountered have taught us”.
After the boss, the leader showing the example, management theories are moving towards a version of the manager 3.0 who has all the attributes of the influencer. This is all the more true as the influencer will be at ease in agile organisations that are flourishing nowadays.
HAVING influencer qualities is a plus, but BEING an influencer is an attitude that needs to be learned. Working with a coach will allow you to become an influencer yourself.
A few words on the author
Luz d’Ans is an ICF certified Executive Coach. After graduating from Sciences-Po Paris, she worked for 15 years in large international groups as a Risk Manager in France, Singapore and Switzerland. She is trained in neuroscience applied to leadership (neuroleadership) and in systemic business coaching. She accompanies individuals and companies in the challenges of their transformation: complex projects, talent upskilling and recovery after a life accident.