Influence is all about the ability to persuade others without the use of authority or force. It is the ability to create “win-win” scenarios. It requires trust and the creation of a shared vision of success, and enables leaders to have impact in their organizations, industries, and communities.
Year after year, the top coaching priority for our clients has been influence. This is because leaders in every industry understand the value and importance of developing the ability to informally influence their direct reports, peers, and superiors. Being influential helps leaders get things done – influence brings speed and inspires action.
But what drives a leaders’ ability to influence others? We’ve covered a few of the skills, behaviors, and attitudes on our blog – being human helps, as does being open about your intentions and making an effort to be present in conversations. These are all aspects of a broader set of “coaching skills” that leaders can learn and use in their roles to be more effective and influential.
Coaching skills that build influence
Being able to influence others requires a deep knowledge and appreciation for their thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. Leaders who want to be influential must know what is important to the other person, as well as what they value.
As part of their training, coaches learn how to cultivate behaviors and mindsets that place others at the center of an interaction. Giving people your full attention, being present, and setting aside your judgments are all ways to let people know you are truly interested in getting to know them better.
Successful people really do listen twice as much as they speak – Coaching is all about listening and asking questions to check for meaning, draw out values, understanding what other people desire, and helping others come up with their own solutions. Listening and asking another person questions is the key to building the relationship – most people want to know you care about them before they are willing to ‘be influenced’ by you
One of the myths about coaches is that they are there to give advice – nothing could be farther from the truth. Rather, coaches are trained to manage a process of discussion and discovery that enables clients to set goals, identify roadblocks, and achieve results faster.
When in a coaching role, leaders encourage others to co-create solutions, which helps others build their problem-solving muscles. Because this approach builds shared ownership of ideas and actions, it also fosters stronger commitment and follow-through.