The phenomenal speed of change that got us to the 21st century’s technological frenzy is not going to slow down any time soon — and it is creating an uncertain future on a global business level that is naturally demanding change. We are having to evolve how we operate so that what we do aligns with, and leads, the new paradigm. The ability to influence decisions, behaviour and strategy is critical to driving change. Here are seven ways to become more influential in today’s business landscape:
1. It starts with you
Be a leader who is brave, honest and authentic. Stand in your spotlight because being authentic benefits everyone. Don’t be afraid to emphasise your strengths, what you add in terms of value and most importantly your point of difference. There is nothing wrong with making your own profile, or your brand, as strong as you possibly can. It is only when you are operating from that position of self-leadership that you can truly give your best to other people and become more influential.
2. Collaborate – move from me to we
Great opportunity to influence can be created when you move from a focus on ME to working freely in a world of WE, where there is active collaboration and sharing of knowledge, insight and intellect. Commercial collaboration means we are smarter together and we move quicker together. Moving from ‘Me’ to ‘We’, and contributing more to collective thinking creates the opportunity to disrupt current thinking and influence change makers to develop solutions and strategies to secure future business.
3. Build your business intelligence bank
It’s becoming rapidly apparent that skills are an increasingly valuable currency for both corporates and entrepreneurs alike. Appreciate the value of an ‘Intellectual Bank’, the value exchange and the possibilities of what it can bring to business. Suggest to a colleague that you ‘swap’ a skill for a skill – teach each other something you previously had no knowledge of, build the intelligence bank by embracing the strengths and skills of others around you and as a result create more opportunity to influence others.
4. Embrace uniqueness
Organisational culture is not created – it is the culmination of behaviours and value systems. To become more influential, it is imperative that we are individually clear on our value systems, that we live and breathe these values in every behaviour, decision and action we take. If we are to create the organisations and teams that we want to work within, that we want others to enjoy being part of and to build something more than the service or product that is being sold, the soul of the business has to permeate everything – and its more than just words.
5. Full disclosure
Be brave enough to share your weaknesses: too often in the workplace, we see admitting a lack of knowledge or understanding as admitting to failure. What it is in actuality is a form of strength, because it shows our colleagues that we are willing to seek help and show vulnerability. The end result? This engenders trust, encourages others to admit their vulnerabilities and creates opportunities to influence behaviours.
6. Build your network
The more innovative and influential businesses and organisations are finding that collaboration and effective and powerful networking are giving them an edge. The cross-fertilisation of connections, skills and brainpower and the ideas that are openly discussed and shared through network creation, in their turn create new opportunities, innovation and new solutions to existing problems. This isn’t the whole ‘have as many people as possible in your email list’ type of network; but like-minded thinkers who understand what you want to achieve and whom you want to support in kind.
7. Sponsor others
Become more influential in the leadership pipeline by sponsoring others. Taking on the responsibilities of a sponsor means you are willing to engage with and give back to a potential leader. This is not only a selfless action; it is about securing the present, sharing all you have learned along the way to influence the future generation of business leaders and a future yet to come.
Influencing more in today’s workplace requires each of us to lean out to embrace the opportunity that exists when we build diverse networks, create the freedom to discuss, debate and ideate, where the strength of individual thought leadership and expertise can be reinforced through working together, where each of us has the opportunity to influence one to one and more to more.
This is not about a revolution; it’s about evolution.
This article was originally published by Women’s Agenda.