Influencing others

Join me as we explore my latest coaching insights.

Own the room explores why and how commanding a strong leadership presence is critical in navigating career transitions effectively. Career progression is always associated with changes in your key audiences. And so success in a new role is heavily dependent on influencing how you are perceived by these audiences. The phrase owning the room was first used over a century ago to describe someone who drew positive attention to herself socially because of her manner speech and body language. Amy Jen Su’s and Muriel Wilkins’ Own the Room is a first-class book; I have used the title and some of their ideas in this post.

In Practising dialogue I examine the role and power of holding a conversation based on dialogue in contrast with a discussion or a debate. It’s through dialogue that people work together to create shared understanding; and thereby harness diversity, collective knowledge and fresh insights to enhance problem-solving and decision-making. Whereas, in discussions and debates the focus is more narrow and the intent is usually to arrive at one point of view as expeditiously as possible.

Does this sound like leaders’ heaven to you? Imagine you are able to negotiate any deal, win arguments and influence people to do what you know needs doing. There’s ample evidence this is possible – the tool is rapport. This post is about the nature and power of rapport and how to build and use rapport to influence and persuade others, at all times with integrity. Importantly, using rapport is notabout being manipulative.

In today’s enterprises truly effective leaders deliver outcomes by persuading for results. Without the ability to persuade, a leader is hamstrung and cannot realise her or his vision where this requires the collective actions of others – direct reports, peers, superiors, clients, suppliers and other stakeholders. Competence in the art of persuasion enables a leader to get things done without coercion.

A leader’s ability to influence without authority – in the traditional sense – is rapidly becoming a hallmark of the new era in the world of work. A client recently captured the challenge of having to influence others without authority when she said: “Can you teach me how to hold someone accountable who does not report to me? If I can’t demand compliance, how do I get enthusiastic cooperation?”.

Late yesterday Bob, one of my high-flying clients in a listed corporation, called me in a perplexed state. He was wondering about how he could influence others when making decisions. During the day he had landed in a near shouting match with his favourite direct report, and later with his boss, the chief executive, he had enjoyed ‘one of the best one-on-ones we have ever had’. In both conversations substantial decisions were scheduled for immediate action. Driving home, he couldn’t for the life of him understand why they felt so different, so he called me.