To be an effective leader is to rise above corporate status, rank or title. It is about achieving a positive impact on people and inspiring others to succeed and think long-term. It is about integrity and gaining trust from fellow colleagues.
To be someone of influence, you need belief in a cause and a drive to motivate others for the greater good. Taking the easy route is not always the best approach. Throughout my career, I have been in situations where I needed to challenge the conventional, disrupt the delusional, and navigate through the ‘noise’.
Shake up the corporate tree
Getting the best results from stakeholders across the workplace can be initiated in surprising ways. For example, how can a new graduate employee have more influence than a senior executive? Young talent can bring new skills, fresh ideas, and the latest in tech thinking. They are not constrained by decades of disciplines and formulaic thinking.
When our minds are uninhibited by old methods, the strength of creative agility and the willingness to adapt quickly can have enormous influence across the organisation. Shaking up the hierarchical corporate tree can force a few unsuspecting leaders to fall out clutching their somewhat bruised egos.
The ability to listen is another powerful means of communication and influence. The speaker has a voice and a sympathetic ear, and you have a confidant that values your time and counsel. Equally, a good speaker must think carefully about tone and words. A wise word can win friends, whereas ill-chosen verbiage quickly destroys reputations. If people believe in your words, your credibility will gain long-term standing with everyone you meet.
Create a brand
There has been a lot of publicity in the media recently about gender equality. In light of International Women’s Day, motivating and uniting friends, colleagues, and communities is more important than ever. This day belongs to us all – we are all the by-product of others’ influence.
The overarching message for me is inclusivity. Male or female, we need to redress the balance to give all generations a fair platform to succeed. The influence of the media has been wide-reaching, helping to get people talking and question decisions that were once taboo.
I work in technology, a traditionally male dominated industry, but I am encouraged by the fact that the spotlight on equality has helped to inspire a wider diversity of young, entrepreneurial talent to thrive. Nevertheless, there is still significant rooms for improvement. The 2017 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO survey shows that just 9 percent of senior IT leadership roles are held by women. We all need to be asking ourselves how we can inspire a better balance in the boardroom.
Michelle Phan, an American-Vietnamese make-up entrepreneur and YouTube personality once said, “Influence is the new power – if you have influence, you can create a brand.” She went on to explain how 87% of women today trust credible YouTube influencers over hackneyed celebrity ads and endorsements.
Stereotypes are there to be broken, especially those that impact lives and hamper careers. Remain faithful to your unique and original self.
You need to stay relevant to make a difference. You need to push boundaries and involve talent from all areas of the business. By developing your influential style, you can help others to consider alternative ways to improve projects and enhance strategies. Building your brand profile cultivates relationships and lays the foundation to gain respect from people that will follow your lead.
The indices of influence
Throughout your career, you will face many challenges and obstacles. There is a profound difference between management and leadership, especially in terms of the way people think.
Influence is a skill. It needs to be nurtured and valued. In my view, its main and multifaceted purpose is to inspire, empower, inform, educate, and challenge the three cousins of corporate sin – perceptions, assumptions, and misconceptions.
Amber Hurdle, author of The Bombshell Business Woman: How to Become a Bold, Brave, and Successful Female Entrepreneur, recently wrote, “By not stepping into your greatness, you are letting down everyone around you whom you can inspire, touch, or influence.”
Banging the old corporate drum with an authoritarian stick is just playing second fiddle to failure. Like a finely tuned instrument, influence must be mastered with finesse and artistry. Now is the time to get in tune with a new way of working.