No matter what our roles at work, whether we manage people, whether we lead large teams or if we are an individual contributor, a key and critical skill to develop is how to influence.
When we talk about influence, it's useful to distinguish the difference between power and influence.
Power versus influence
Power is typically something that we might have in our role because of our position or hierarchy, or because we hold a resource which gives us a position to negotiate (or indeed a position to influence).
However, we don't always have that in a work environment. We don't always exist in roles where having hierarchical authority necessarily means that things that need to get done will get done.
So, as a manager and leader, we need to find ways to influence or persuade people.
There is a positive and a purposeful side to influencing, but there is also a more manipulative and dark side; and the techniques which you might use to do either of those are very similar, but it's important for the purpose of this article, to talk about how to influence from the place of positive intention.
There are lots of models and frameworks around how to influence effectively, and we would like to share a couple of them, which you might find useful, in this article.
How to influence effectively
The ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ model
When we think about influencing, we need to think about what we do, how we do it and also why we do it.
‘What’ corresponds to the actions you take, how they align with the organisation’s strategy, vision and key objectives… and how they align with your stakeholders and peers objectives.
‘How’ is about the human skills you show up with - how approachable and open you are, the communication style that you bring to those conversations and how you build relationships – and this links through to what we talked about in our article on what makes a great people manager.
‘Why’ is what can often be the most powerful aspect when you are influencing. It's how you connect people to what you want them to do. It's about aligning with purpose. It can be the purpose of the organisation or your team, but also your individual purposes (e.g. What drives you? What's important to you? What do you value?).
There's another useful way of looking at this, and it goes back to Aristotle's artistic proofs that were coined many years ago.
Aristotle’s Three Methods of Persuasion
Aristotle suggested that any communication aiming at persuading people contains three elements: ethos, pathos and logos.
Ethos is about how to get people to identify with your credibility or your character - and getting them to believe you, follow you or be influenced by you - because you have integrity (e.g. maybe you are qualified, have education/experience or have a type of presence that makes people want to believe you).
Pathos is the emotional appeal, how to persuade and influence people based upon emotions. It’s about speaking to hearts, helping people align with you from an emotional perspective.
Logos is influencing or persuading somebody by logical reason. This is where we bring in evidence, data and facts (e.g. bring key information to help them understand and agree with our decision).
In this article, we've covered why influencing is important and introduced two key methods of persuasion: the ‘what, how and the why’ framework and Aristotle's model of using ethos, pathos and logos.
We'll leave you with the final resource, which is the book Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy, which can really help bring some of this together, especially if you are somebody moving into management and leadership or somebody looking at building your confidence.
CAPE Coaching & Development equip, empower, and enable brilliant People Managers through development programmes, workshops and 1:1 coaching. Learn more by visiting www.wearyourcape.co.uk.