Importance of Influence in Leadership Success

Michael Finnigan
Jan 30, 2020

It isn’t an easy job to be a leader these days. They are expected to offer more results in smaller timeframes and limited resources. There can be many meetings, numerous stakeholders to consult, and fluctuating goals to pursue. The end result is a working environment that is very bureaucratic, complex and with very little progress. 

The former CEO of Intel, Andy Grove, said, “Just as you would not permit a fellow employee to steal a piece of office equipment, you shouldn’t let anyone walk away with the time of his fellow managers.” This usually happens in all organizations and the problem gets worse when they’re unable to influence the people around you. Those leaders who cannot build support for the initiatives will be left behind in the race. However, shouldn’t rely on the traditional methods and hierarchies to get things done, as the organizational dynamics have changed a lot.

It’s very much important to understand the way decisions are made, who influences whom, and the ways to progress and influence results and outcomes. It is all about having an understanding about the various influencing factors that operate in the system and finding the backdoors to leverage the informal channels via decisions are made.

Collaboration is Key

All the influential leaders out there know their way to get things done through others and will be very much aware of their operating environment. These leaders do this in a way that is very collaborative and consultative, understanding that they can secure sustainable progress by involving their stakeholders.  Having the capability to effectively influence can help you get your initiatives across the line and get heard. Influence can be a force for good when used effectively to make better business decisions.

On the other hand, those managers who really struggle to influence make use of hierarchical power plays, usually seeking to wield their power over others. But, trying to force their decisions on others without much consultation leads to very little buy-in and below average outcomes.

Influence is a Team Play

One of the characteristics of an effective leader is the understanding that they cannot do it alone. For the team to progress, a good leader will need each and every team member to work effectively in their best way. To achieve this, the team members should also be able to influence, meaning that they should also be trained and supported. This will let them understand the thing that triggers and drives their behavior. Moreover, they will be prepared to manage their own behavioral responses. As a result of this, they will be capable of

  • Building great stakeholder relations
  • Creating leagues of support to introduce change
  • Negotiating important decisions
  • Communicating in a compelling and authentic way

If you are a leader looking for more traction in order to pave the way to a quicker progression, you will need your team to be able to influence, just like you are able to influence. This influence should be focused on balanced returns, taking into account the need of all the stakeholders. This way, influence becomes an advantage and benefit to the complete team and the organization.