A leader who is influential versus controlling and/or authoritative is much more effective. By influencing others to achieve an objective, a leader is empowering them which is much more productive and beneficial to an organization in the long run.
Influencing others is not easy. So how does one do it? In most cases, trying to influence someone else takes time which in our fast-paced, instant gratification society is not usually desirable. The leader needs to be able to explain his or her ideas fully which includes backing up any statements he or she makes with accurate information. In addition, the leader needs to understand what the concerns or problems the other person foresees and be open-minded enough to take that into consideration.
If this is not working, it is necessary for the leader to really spend the time to investigate why the other person is resisting. Asking “why” once to the person usually does not work. I suggest to my clients to ask “why” seven times to really “peel the layers of the onion” to get to the true reason why this person is pushing back.
As an example, a leader may want to implement a new program by a certain date. One of his senior managers does not agree. On the surface, the leader may view this as a financial reason, but after spending the time to really delve into the “whys”, it comes out that the senior manager has some staffing issues and is concerned that the program will eventually make him look like he is incompetent. His insecurities are the real reason he is pushing back but it took time to really understand the underlying issues. These feelings stem all the way back to his childhood, and it is an area that the senior manager knows he needs to improve upon but does not like to admit this to others. The leader still wants to go ahead but with this new insight he can provide better guidance to this person to make it a success which will help with the senior manager’s confidence.
Think of a time someone tried to influence you. Did it conflict with your core values or beliefs? If so, how did you react? Keep that in mind next time you are trying to influence someone else.