Influence the real secret to leadership, and yet one of the most misunderstood skills and success factors. In fact, leadership is not about titles, positions, status. It is about influencing others to accelerate our results, performance, personal brand, or sales. It’s what sets successful leaders apart from the rest.
To build success, there is no other way around. John Maxwell said: “The higher you want to climb, the more you need leadership. The greater the impact you want to make, the greater your influence needs to be.”
It sounds easy but it’s not. Never been harder than now. Without clarity, a proper plan, and the right approach, it’s difficult to access and influence clients. There are too many distractions, they are overwhelmed, overloaded with information, burned out. They struggle to dedicate quality time to others. They have other priorities and increased pressure to get their own results. This leads inevitably to a short attention span.
If you don’t have the ability to influence people in any situation, there is a limitation of success you can achieve. There is a plateau. To go to the next level, you need to learn and follow a specific process. This is why influence is one of my key pillars when I work with consulting leaders.
Here are three key principles:
What’s for them?
Influential consultants know how critical it is to understand clients, their priorities, goals, challenges, agenda. Before entering any important conversation, they know what’s the best way to introduce the idea, what levers to use, what angles to take.
The great thing about these leaders is they are genuine in doing this. They’re genuinely interested to help others; they make them feel important, they find a way to make them succeed while they get their idea accepted.
To do so, they consider all reasons, incentives, motivations, and factors that can influence the other person in this situation. They understand this is necessary to build trust as well.
Dale Carnegie said: “The average person is more interested in her own name than in all the other names on earth put together.”
One person at a time.
Influence works one person at a time. Successful people know this well. When I work with my clients, we start by mapping their stakeholders and understanding how to bring the idea forward. We focus on the key people on their list. Not only clients but also their partners and advisors. Just one at a time.
Real influencers have clear goals and outcomes to achieve before planning the conversation. They also choose the right time to have that conversation. In other words, they pay attention to details. They don’t run into high-stake conversations until they feel ready and comfortable.
This prevents them to deal with unexpected situations.
No plan, no success.
Finally, they plan well the conversation ahead. They anticipate resistance and objections, they rehearse and prepare for the worst, they’re ready to walk away if the conversation gets too emotional or there is a risk to hurt the relationship.
Not surprisingly, they have great communication skills and they adapt their approach based on the people they want to influence. They master all seven influence skills to get what they want.
In other words, they are in control.
Influence requires a strategic mindset, discipline, planning, execution. It’s a process. Once you learn it, things get easier and your way to success accelerates exponentially.