There are many factors that allow HR and other professionals to achieve success, but I have noticed more and more that there is a common element that makes the stars stand out internally and/or externally. It is the art of influencing.

To better yourself internally you are likely to have to enhance your impact and earn even greater respect. In the external market many headhunters will be requiring you to prove how influential you have been, so I thought it may be helpful to highlight a few ways in which I have seen this done.

Influencing is about understanding yourself and the impact or effect you have on others. It is certainly not coercion, manipulation or bullying people into submission! The art of course is to bring people with you and engage them so that they become champions of the cause.

So what do great influencers do?

  • They know their ‘audience’. To influence you need to understand the other person’s hot buttons; what’s in it for them? The influencer has researched, listened and thought through beneficial outcomes before attempting to persuade anyone else.
  • They are able to easily modify their personal style whilst still being true to themselves. It’s a fine line but changing behaviour is the key, not changing how you feel or who you are.
  • Building a rapport is essential. Friendly and warm to some groups, more logical and factual with others, but always consulting; listening, questioning and showing great interest in their views. State your thoughts in broad terms to allow others to make a creative contribution to the thought process.
  • Influencers will appeal to peoples’ expertise. Not only is it good to have their specialist input but we all love to be encouraged to share our expertise and often feel engagement as a result!
  • Those who succeed in influencing others are confident in what they are proposing. It doesn’t mean they are rigid, but they state their cause clearly and positively. For some groups this self confidence gives the direction and clarity they need to make their decision. People move towards those who are suitably self assured.
  • They practice what they preach; lead by example and demonstrate the values and behaviours that others respect and aspire to.
  • The best influencers are not shy of ‘influencing by numbers’; in other words they may gather a group of people together who share the vision and use the combined power of that group to encourage the sceptics to join. This is often best achieved if a high profile person or two are within the initial group.
  • We find it hard to join with someone if our values are very different from theirs. To influence some groups you will need to engage them in a values-led way, appealing to their own passions, emotions and drivers. Trust is built and a common understanding reached.

Above all, people like being around those who use their influencing skills well. There’s a kind of excitement, or sense that things happen when they’re around. The reason is that they don’t sit around wishing things were different while moaning that there is nothing they can do about it.

Truly excellent influencing skills require a healthy combination of interpersonal, communication, presentation and assertiveness techniques.

So next time you are faced with a situation that draws on your influencing skills, it will probably pay dividends to take stock and think about those you are influencing and what it is that they require. Bring people with you willingly and you’ll create a ground-swell of like minded champions.

At the Career Gym we recognise that influencing is only one small part of being a great commercial practitioner. We have expert knowledge of the key career competencies and have successfully worked with many people to help them realise their career potential.