Being able to influence is a critical skill to have if you want to take on more senior roles in your career.
Is it a skill your born with or can you learn it? I’d suggest it is a skill that you can acquire.
Of course, there are people who appear naturally influentially and easily able to navigate their way through complex environments. But if you scratch underneath the surface there was more to it.
From my experience, the most influential leaders were those who took the time to understand themselves.
They realised that if they wanted to be more influential – it was less about other people and more about themselves. Establishing influence took effort and practice.
They needed to know themselves, understand their trigger points, be able to change and also accept what couldn’t be changed. Knowing yourself is an ongoing discovery. I don’t think you ever stop discovering new things about yourself.
Taking the time to know and understand yourself and what drives you is as important as exercise and eating well. It’s like soul food. It nourishes you internally. And whilst it can be hard work, the outcomes make it worthwhile.
Have you ever taken the time to consider what triggers your thoughts, behaviours or reactions?
Think about a time when you were really happy with an interaction with someone (ie colleague, friend or partner):
- Where were you – the location
- Who was involved – the people
- What time did it occur – time of day
- How did you feel at the start of the interaction (eg busy, relaxed, distracted) – your feelings
- What did you say or not say during the interaction – your actions
- How did you feel at the end of the interaction (eg tired, frustrated, angry) – your emotional reaction
- What did you think at the end of the interaction – your behavioural reaction
- What outcome was achieved – the result
And then, on the opposite end, think about a time when an interaction didn’t go well. Ask yourself the same questions. You may want to do this exercise with a range of different interactions.
Look at the responses and the differences they highlight.
If you look objectively you’ll find that there are triggers that give rise to whether an interaction will be healthy or unhealthy. For example, you may be phoned by a good friend, but they’ve rung late in the day and you’re on the train on the way home. You’re tired and so less willing to be a ‘sounding board’ or sympathetic ear. On the other hand, it may be a colleague that you find challenging to deal with, but because it is your first day back from holiday you are more relaxed and willing to listen.
Taking the time to know your trigger points means you’ll be able to better position yourself to have conversations at a time when you know you’ll be in the best frame of mind.
As Chinese Philosopher, Lao Tzu said: “He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened”.
Remember, change happens. Make it work for you!
Michelle Gibbings is known for making the complex, simple. She helps people to think more deliberately, act with greater purpose and accelerate progress by understanding the art and science of human behaviour.