“I want to have more influence beyond just my small team.” The client was a little hesitant to say that, fearing it would sound arrogant or maybe power hungry. To the contrary, business leaders are more effective in leading their teams when they have impact outside their own sphere of influence. The client recognized she was at the level she wanted to be and did not desire to strive for a higher level position, but she did want to be more influential in the company.
Influential leaders can open doors that help their team members succeed. Though they may not have a formal role in the larger organization they will be more aware of what is happening which will allow them to better guide their team.
How can you become more influential?
There are three actions which, when combined, will help you develop influence, but you must first be clear about what you’re trying to accomplish. If you are just out for your own power, people will see through your efforts. While you might have some success, you will also make yourself a target. While becoming more influential will help your own career, your goal must be to help your team and the organization succeed.
Get to know people outside your own circle. Your goal is not to find out how they can help you, but to learn how you can help them. When others know you can be counted on for help from time to time, they will be more likely to support you as well.
Ask questions and listen carefully to the answers. This increases your own body of knowledge and provides a database of information you will find useful in helping others at some point in the future while also demonstrating your interest in other’s experience.
Seek feedback and accept it when it’s offered. Of course, you will personally gain from listening to what others think, but you’ll also be seen as someone who is open to improvement. When you ask others for their opinion of something you’ve done, it is a big boost to their ego as well.
Notice a common thread in these three steps.
Yes, you can develop influence without trust, but that type of influence is based on fear and others will reject you the first chance they get. When others trust you, and understand your genuine interest in helping your team and the company, they will happily be part of you network and you will be an influential leader.