When I was just starting out in my career, I took a position where I reported to the District Vice President of a Retail Bank. I worked with the Branch Managers in the District to grow specific consumer programs. Thinking I was pretty high up on the food chain; I immediately started working with people as if they needed to listen to me or do what I said. I would give them goals, follow up and ask where they were in their progress, pressure them if they weren’t on track … you get the picture: it wasn’t pretty. Soon, I started getting feedback that people didn’t want to work with me. Being young, selfish, and ignorant; my immediate reaction was, Too freaking bad. The DP hired me to do a job, and they need to do what I say. I quickly heard how bad that sounded in my head!
That’s when my boss changed my outlook on Leadership, and I probably owe him a big debt for changing the trajectory of my career in one conversation. He told me that I’d get much farther in my career if I learned how to INFLUENCE WITHOUT AUTHORITY. That phrase caught my attention. If I can become an INFLUENCER, even when I don’t have authority, think of how much I could accomplish through others. There’s no better trial for a Leadership role than showing that you can do that!
So how do you become an INFLUENCER without having any authority??
HERE’S THE 3 KEYS TO BECOMING INFLUENTIAL
The fastest way to become an INFLUENCER is to build trust. You do that by serving others and helping them solve a current pain point. No matter how insignificant it might seem, if you can help someone by easing their pain or frustrations; you’ll immediately earn their trust & respect, and they’ll likely be focused going forward on helping you achieve your big lifts (you scratch their back, they’ll scratch yours). This might seem like a stretch in today’s world where most of us have enough on our plate to justify another full time person, but this is the quickest way to make an impact, and get people in your fan club.
SEE THE BIGGER PICTURE
A key component in being able to provide value to others and build their trust is to see the bigger picture (a.k.a. See the forest through the trees). Stand back and seek to understand how the entire organization breathes, how one department affects another, how one person’s ideas or actions can tank another’s goals or progress. When you can point out to someone that the new product launch they are planning could really hinder another group’s progress toward meeting their main objective; or you can connect two different departments that are ultimately working toward the same thing, but they don’t notice how they can align their efforts; you start to make a name for yourself. That name is team player, and soon; peers will be lining up asking for your ideas and opinions … and ultimately, the boss will take notice.
When you make other people look good; you look good. When you focus on making others look bad in the goal of making yourself look good; you lose. Every. Single. Time. Look for opportunities to point out to someone’s boss how well they are going. In front of a group, congratulate someone for their improvement in a metric. Take the time to mentor someone or work with them to meet a goal. When you build others up, the higher ups recognize your ability to grow and develop people. They see that you’re not out for yourself but for the success of the entire team and organization. They see someone who naturally has the ability to lead and motivate. The less they have to teach you, the faster they will see results. This is your golden ticket.
You’ll notice that all three of these keys work hand in hand. If you’re focusing on one, you’ll likely nail the others through osmosis.
If you can prove to your Leaders that you can influence without authority; you’re not only showing them that you are a natural leader, you’re showing them that you are a team player, that you focus on the bigger picture, that relationships are important, and that you win by serving others. Trust me friend, when the next leadership position becomes available, you’ll likely get a nudge to apply for it.