If I suggest to you that you need to be more influential with key people, what do you think? Do you think, “Yes! Bring it on”? or, do you think, “Why do we have to influence these guys ( and gals)?”

What are your feelings associated with the idea? Are you excited? Or, does your stomach turn?

We are starting this series of posts with your mindset because too often people agree intellectually that they need to be more influential, but they cringe at the actual work of it. Why? Here are some high potential reasons. Which ones resonate with you?

  1. Our mothers told us to be nice, and we equate influence with manipulating people. OK, check that—are you really trying to trick someone? Don’t do that. Do you really think the other person is so gullible that they will allow you to simply “make them do something” that is not in their interest?
  2. We want people to agree with our logic. For goodness sake, they are smart, so why don’t they just agree? Why do I have to even think about them?
  3. It’s playing politics which is nasty. Politics has a bad wrap–mostly with the people who don’t play. Politics is simple reality if defined as how people play together. It’s about relationships and getting things done. Yes, people have interests, some that compete with yours. By the way, some of the most masterful influencers never “play politics.”
  4. We don’t have time. Work is about the project plan, the production schedule, the decision process, etc. OK, then you are limited to results you can direct or outcomes others agree with you naturally or easily. The time it takes resisting and complaining is for more taxing than time spent understanding and engaging.

More importantly, why put time into becoming more influential? What I see everyday as a call for influence is some combination of these reasons to be more masterful:

  1. Our organizations and decisions are more complex.
  2. Competing interests mask mutual benefit.
  3. Cultures present diverse beliefs and values.
  4. Practices can be divergent or clashing.
  5. Desired outcomes are best delivered by real commitment, not rote action.

Simply put, we shoud only focus on understanding and engaging people if we can’t get the best outcomes by directing the work. Where you have power and people are ready to follow, or you have “chips” you can call in—you don’t need to extend the effort.

So, here’s what we’ll be spending time on in this series of posts:

  1. Understanding yourself and how others may see you.
  2. Understanding the person(s) who matters to your desired outcome.
  3. Finding a new “dance” in your relationship.
  4. Creating a strategy that allows you to gain agreement, align interests, etc.

Start this week by isolating one or two desired outcomes and declare what you want to create and why it’s important.

Let me know what struck you about this first piece and what didn’t.