Influence is the capacity of any individual to have an effect or create an impact on others in such a way that, it transforms their opinions and beliefs. Influencing especially at the workplace thus becomes a process of transforming the attitude and behaviors of employees. For instance, a manager influences his subordinates through the way he communicates, policies he implements, and actions he takes.
However, influencing is not limited to top business leaders alone. It is a soft skill that can be exploited by any individual, irrespective of the hierarchical position he holds.
Influencing skill is not associated with one specific quality but it is an incorporation of different values and traits. It includes integrity and transparency, effective communication, the potentiality to offer constructive feedback, and strong emotional intelligence. These influencing qualities can be achieved and maintained with a great deal of patience, persistence, and experience.
1. Integrity and transparency
Integrity and transparency are the influential skills that help maintain an individual’s moral compass intact. While talking about influencing your staff and employees, you as a leader must lead with these profound values. Integrity represents how much a leader is honest in practising business values. However, transparency is a quality that imparts a trustworthy environment. For instance, you as a transparent leader will ensure that your employees or subordinates are on the same page by informing them about why certain decisions have been taken.
If you aren’t maintaining transparency in day-to-day business activities then you are creating an impression among your employees that you are an undependable and deceiving person. Your employees then won’t feel the inspiration to follow your rules and orders. Thus, it is crucial that you are a leader with integrity and transparency.
2. Effective communication
To be able to communicate effectively means you can convey your thoughts with clarity and precision. Effective communication skills help you motivate your employees to line-up their personal goals with the organizational goals. Poor communication, however, may induce ambiguity and thereby misguide subordinates about their goals and objectives.
Moreover, effective communication skills aren’t simply about speaking in the right manner. It should also incorporate active listening. As per ‘The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, a leader should voluntarily involve himself in active listening to acknowledge and understand other’s opinions and point of view.
3. Credible Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is a powerful ability of an individual to manage their emotions in challenging times and conflicting situations while empathizing with others. Emotional intelligence helps leaders understand what to respond and how to respond. A leader with a strong and credible emotional intelligence focuses on improving interpersonal skills, facilitating a healthy work environment, and inspiring employees to attain business goals than constantly criticizing them.
4. Ability to Offer Constructive Feedback
By offering constructive feedback, you are influencing your employees to improve their performance without discouraging or demotivating them. If you practise being tactful at giving constructive feedback, then your subordinates will eventually exhibit the best performance. Constructive feedback is one where you can balance the points on strengths and weaknesses while offering viable solutions to make improvements.
You can develop a quarterly or annual review schedule to keep the channels of communication and subsequent improvement open between managers and employees. Try to create an environment where feedback, appreciation and concerns are welcome and considerable.
Types of Influence at the Workplace
Managers and team leaders can exercise influencing skills in various forms. Let us consider a few of them:
1. Legitimate power: This kind of influence allows company executives to form organizational policies and implement a specific kind of norm to influence their employees. The essence of this kind of influence lies in the power of decision-making.
2. Reward power: It is an influencing ability that enables a leader to offer higher commission, increase pay or accord a reward. This way a leader influences his employees to start working on a particular assignment.
3. Coercive power: This kind of influence has a negative connotation to it as it involves yelling at employees or threatening to fire them.
Operating a business successfully is not a cakewalk. As a leader or manager of a company, you should focus on practising soft skills with your subordinates apart from working on external business operations. These soft skills are crucial for you to navigate successfully in midst of all the challenges and hardships. Influencing skills discussed in the article are the essential building blocks of leadership qualities that impart desired operational growth.