INFLUENCE IS EVERYTHING
Are the crucial starting point of the influence model, because where there is trust, there is influence. A partner simply needs less convincing—the trust is already there, so they’re ready to focus on the merit of an idea.
Here are seven investments we can make to shift partnerships toward greater trust and cooperation:
Knowledge-building spans both sides of our influence model. It is both something you do on an ongoing basis and something you need to do in the moment when you are preparing for a specific influence opportunity. Knowledge should expand your perspective. When you lack knowledge about the realities of other parts of the organization, your perspective is limited.
Another affecting factor is passion, which can work in our favor because it provides the impetus to influence, but it can also cloud our judgment if not backed by perspective. To lower the risk of unintended consequences, you need to get to know and understand the organization as a whole so that you can put anything you are influencing into a broader context.
Once you’ve decided on the ‘what’ and ‘who’ of influence, you need a strategy for how. When we think of how we are going to persuade, we think about facts, statistics, logic and rationale. But some of the most compelling research on influence and persuasion argues that we are missing the point—that humans are hard- wired to make decisions in anything but a logical way. Here are six basic tactics for cross-functional influence that get beyond just presenting facts.
In the influence dialogue, after introducing or framing the issue, you work to have a constructive talk about what you want to accomplish and why. You will have to consider both the issue at hand and the relationship when you enter the conversation—you are aiming for wins on both sides. You may not always get wins, but going in with anything less in mind will undercut your approach. The dialogue needs to be based in the assumption that at the heart of it is a conflict, the “who” in that conflict is most likely a partner, and the outcome is some level of ownership.
Our preparation for influence, if we do any, tends to be focused on presenting the features and benefits of our ideas. But how often do we list out the questions we want to ask? We prepare to talk, not to listen—and that is highly detrimental to influence.
Patience is a virtue, but when working cross- functionally, it is a necessity. If you are good at what you do and engaged in the organization, you are going to see so many things that need to change, improve or go away. Don’t let the purview frustrate you—appreciate it and learn to pick and choose where you will make an impact. You may have days when you go home feeling like you didn’t accomplish anything in all of your attempts to mold and shape those across your organization. But you did, and if you persist, you will see progress. Your influence abilities, mixed with strong partnerships, underlie every skill and every success you will have in your role.