Women Leadership Series
Influence, or the capacity to impact agendas and outcomes and bring others on board, is essential for any professional aspiring to get results.
Organizations are minefields of gender structural barriers, biases, inequities, and unfair treatment. Women face unique challenges and must work much harder to gain the credibility, respect, and space they deserve to lead authentically.
Resilient leaders focus more on their functioning than on changing the behaviors and actions of others. They do this by growing their capacity for self-awareness, self-definition, and self-regulation.
Stephen Covey’s Model of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is a very relevant roadmap of how women leaders can increase their influence in the workplace to focus their energy on those factors under their control and influence.
To become more influential, women must first win a private victory by knowing their values, convictions, strengths, goals, career aspirations, and vision for their teams, customers, and the organization they represent.
This level of self-awareness gives women a sense of self-definition or independence when they realize they have what it takes to stand on their two feet.
Next is to become interdependent by winning a public victory, on which they first seek to understand before being understood, creating synergies and orchestrating win-wins that benefit all parties involved. Interdependence requires emotional intelligence and the ability to regulate emotions to successfully navigate the workplace’s emotional, interpersonal, and social dynamics.
Using the acronym INFLUENCE, I am sharing nine steps you can consider to elevate your level of influence as a leader:
- INFORM & SHARE EXPERTISE –Continuously developing your skills and knowledge in your field and being seen as an expert can boost your credibility and influence. Sharing knowledge and expertise generously with colleagues and stakeholders can establish you as a go-to resource in your area of competence. Find opportunities to share your knowledge and insights through presentations, articles, and other mediums to develop yourself as a thought leader.
- NETWORKING & BUILD RELATIONSHIPS –Women often excel in building strong interpersonal relationships and collaborative networks. We may leverage these relationships to gain support, share ideas, and facilitate cooperation among team members. We need the support of mentors, sponsors, and supporters who can help us gain exposure and visibility in front of senior management and opportunities for critical projects that stretch us and help us grow.
- FLEX YOUR APPROACH – Familiarize yourself with the different influencing approaches to expand your repertoire. To maximize your effectiveness, consider being adaptable by using various strategies to suit the preferences, personalities, context and situation because what works in one situation may not work in another.
- LEAD BY EXAMPLE –Leaders are constantly in the spotlight, and because of their place in the organization, their behaviors and attitudes have a more significant impact. As a leader, you must demonstrate the behaviors and work ethics that you expect from your team. When you model the values and work habits you desire, others are more likely to follow your lead.
- UNFOLD YOUR STRENGTHS –Intentionally focusing on what you are naturally good at can increase your confidence, energy, vitality, resilience, and help you achieve better results. Can you name your strengths? What do you and others recognize you are good at? Asking for feedback is one way to increase your awareness about those strengths that make you unique.
- EMPATHIZE & FIND A COMMON GROUND –Listen actively to colleagues, employees, and senior leaders to show empathy in your conversations. Women have gained a reputation for seeking consensus and common ground with others. We are also inclusive leaders who strive to listen to others’ viewpoints before making important decisions. For instance, bridging is an influencing style that seeks to motivate others through reciprocity, consultation, and trust to get support and collaboration.
- NEGOTIATE CONFIDENTLY –Negotiating involves looking for compromises and concessions to achieve outcomes satisfying our most significant interests. To negotiate successfully, you need to stand up for your ideas and beliefs by assertively getting your points across and being willing to take risks to do the right thing.
- COMMUNICATE LIKE A PRO –Focus on honing your verbal and nonverbal communication skills to become more influential. Compelling storytelling can be a powerful influencing tactic. We women often use compelling narratives to communicate our ideas and engage our audiences, making our messages more memorable and persuasive.
- EMBRACE HEALTHY CONFLICT –Avoiding conflict is impossible because disagreements are a natural part of any workplace. Developing conflict resolution skills to address issues and disputes constructively is crucial. Women frequently use diplomacy and conflict resolution skills to manage disagreements and challenges constructively and non-confrontational, which can help maintain workplace relationships.
Remember that effective leadership requires influencing skills. By applying these strategies, you can improve your influencing effectiveness to expand the impact you are creating even more.