Leaders who can’t build support for initiatives and get things done are quickly left behind. One expert walks us through how to build your sphere of influence to create more efficient teams and organisations.
Technological disruption is driving a wave of change so great that the World Economic Forum has termed it the Fourth Industrial Revolution. To thrive in this ever-changing landscape and to progress your career, leaders need to know how to have more impact in a shorter timeframe. Central to that success is being able to influence. It’s a skill that ultimately becomes a source of competitive advantage by helping leaders make more progress.
Today’s workplaces are more – not less – complex
How we work and live is fundamentally changing. A 2016 report by the CSIRO and Australian Computer Society, Tomorrow’s Digitally Enabled Workforce, predicts that nearly half of the jobs in Australia are at risk of computerisation and automation.
Job tenure is long gone, while the casual and contract labour force is continuing to expand. The end result is a working environment that is more complex and ambiguous, where leaders are expected to deliver outcomes in a faster timeframe and often with less resources.
Collaboration is critical
Influential leaders know how to get things done through other people and are aware of the environment in which they are operating. They know how to use their position wisely to secure outcomes enabling them to cut through the noise and make change happen.
They do this in a way that is highly consultative and collaborative, knowing they will only secure sustainable change and progress if employees buy into it. They take a long term view of relationships and understand that relying on traditional hierarchical power to get things done doesn’t work anymore. Why? Because organisational dynamics and employee expectations are different.
In contrast, managers who struggle to influence often resort to hierarchical power plays – seeking to wield ‘power over others’. They force decisions with little consultation, leading to poor outcomes and little buy-in.
Influence isn’t a solo pursuit
An effective leader knows they can’t do it alone. They need each team member operating optimally so they can collectively make progress and create change in the organisation. To do that, the team members need to be able to influence as well.
This is influence that is focused on ensuring balanced outcomes and considering the needs of all stakeholders. Achieving this requires teams to have the optimal mix of technical and behavioural skills. In this way the art of influence becomes a competitive advantage for the whole team – and a major benefit to the organisation.