This is a guest post by Eric Bloom, Executive Director of IT Management and Leadership Institute.
Enhancing your workplace influence has many professional advantages. It helps you gain approval for your business initiatives, acquire needed resources, survive organizational realignments, and position you for short-term promotions and long-term professional success.
Here are 15 techniques that are easy to describe, but very difficult to implement, that will help you maximize your workplace power and influence. You can’t do them all at once. My suggestion to you is to pick the one that most resonates with you personally and work to achieve it.
Then, once you have internalized it as part of your professional repertoire, go back to this list and select other items, one at a time, with the goal of continually adding arrows to your professional influence quiver.
1. Provide Execution Excellence
Job #1 in any business role is to be a top performer in regard to your:
- Quality of work
- Level of effort
- Enthusiasm for the organization
These attributes will simultaneously enhance your job performance and increase your workplace influence.
2. Be Proactive
Being reactive is performing tasks upon request. While this is of great importance, it’s not enough.
Being proactive is:
- Showing initiative
- Seeking client opinions on how service quality can be enhanced
- Discovering what new services are needed and moving toward their implementation
- Discontinuing services that are no longer needed
- Providing technical thought leadership
These proactive type activities position you as an internal agent of change, an asset to the organization and a force to be taken seriously.
3. Use Strategic Reciprocity
Reciprocity is the concept that people generally return favors and treat others as they have been treated. This, in turn, leads to a feeling of obligation to return the favor.
Strategic reciprocity is the process of creating a list of key individuals you may need a favor from in the future and building your “reciprocity bank” beforehand.
4. Provide Thought Leadership
Vertical knowledge is being a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in a specific area, for example in machine learning. Horizontal knowledge is understanding how a specific technology or process is being used across a wide variety of industries and/or professions.
Thought leadership is having the ability to combine your vertical and horizontal knowledge in innovative ways and having the willingness to share it with others.
5. Talk About Benefits, Not Features
Experts have the ability to extrapolate features to the benefits they provide. Non-experts often can’t make this extrapolation and/or don’t care about the features, only the benefits they create.
As a result, talking with your coworkers in their language about the benefits – and not the features – of your initiatives and activities will enhance your credibility, understandability and thought leadership, thus, increasing your influence.
6. Have and Show Empathy for Others
Having empathy for others allows you to better understand their needs, wants and interests.
This understanding, in turn, allows you to:
- More accurately anticipate their needs
- Gain their respect
- Speak their language
- Gain their support
- Receive their cooperation
7. Take the Moral High Ground
It’s hard to disagree with doing “the right thing for the right reasons”. Taking the moral high ground also illustrates your ethics and organizational commitment.
8. Show Gratitude
People appreciate being appreciated. Saying “thank you” when provided assistance, is not only the right thing to do, it also makes people want to provide you with additional assistance in the future.
9. Illustrate Organizational Awareness
Showing your organization awareness by properly navigating organizational politics, avoiding political landmines, and getting things done, not only assists in your project success, it also draws people to you for your advice.
Providing this advice builds loyalty, creates a feeling of reciprocity, and allows you to influence them more easily when needed at a future time.
10. Demonstrate Your Passion and Conviction
When people are passionate and have strong conviction about a topic, concept, activity or objective, it’s infectious and others want to follow.
11. Be a Problem Solver
Having a reputation as a problem solver causes people to turn to you for assistance when issues arise. This enhances your workplace influence because:
- Problems are generally seen by upper management, increasing your upward visibility
- It builds your list of accomplishments
12. Presentation Excellence
Presentations are generally made to senior management and/or key project stakeholders. When making these types of presentations, not only is your topic being evaluated, so are you. Your ability to present:
- Illustrates your business acumen in front of those who judge your future
- Helps you gain approval and funding of projects that enhance your career
- Raises your visibility, upward mobility, and air of success
13. Be Calm During Adversity
This concept is best described in this quote by Toda Beta, “A man of calm is like a shady tree. People who need shelter come to it.”
14. Do Extraordinary Non-Work Things
Run marathons, participate in iron man events, climb high mountains, start a successful charity or local non-profit, do great things. Highly respected accomplishments outside the office can dramatically raise your level of respect and influence in the workplace as well.
15. Mentor Others
Mentoring others within your company should be done simply because it’s the right thing to do. Helping others is one of our most basic human instincts. That said, it also provides you, as the mentor, great value, because it:
- Enhances your skills as a teacher, manager and leader
- Provides contacts across the company through reorganizations
- Builds your reputation as a team player
- Builds loyalty in those you mentor
- Makes you more likely to be mentored
- Builds your “reciprocity’ bank”
Until next time, lead well, innovate, and continue to grow.
Eric Bloom is the Executive Director of the IT Management and Leadership Institute, Founder of OfficeInfluence.com, author of the book “Office Influence: Get What You Want from The Mailroom to the Boardroom”, an Amazon bestselling author, speaker, trainer and executive coach.
Eric is also a former nationally syndicated columnist, TEDx speaker, and recognized thought leader on the use of influence in the workplace.
He is also a Past President of National Speakers Association New England, a Certified Professional Speaker (CSP), and the author of various other books, including “Productivity Driven Success” and “The CIO’s Guide to Staff Needs, Growth, and Productivity”. Prior to his current role, Eric was a senior IT executive at various firms including Fidelity Investments, Monster.com and Independence Investments.