Whether it’s your career goals or a company project, “influencing without authority” is crucial for getting people on board with your ideas. Asking others to focus on something outside of their specialty requires you to educate, assert, motivate, and establish a vision for the future.
Uniting others under a shared purpose necessitates generating a common awareness and understanding about the topic. Those you’re trying to convince need to be able to “connect the dots” in terms of relevance to have the desire to proceed. Doing so can be difficult when their priorities differ or they are overwhelmed with work or dealing with their own challenges.
Embrace your leadership potential.
Almost all change projects and transformational programs are grounded in creating “buy-in” and persuading others to get on board with the new direction. Although this can feel like an uphill battle, certain aspects can help you do this.
Here are seven steps you can take to encourage others to support your endeavors:
Step 1: Take ownership.
Accept your responsibility in owning your career or specific project. If you find yourself avoiding accountability, take the time to understand why that is happening to shake off self-doubt or potential impostor syndrome. Be honest with yourself if you’re nervous or uncertain, so you can work through your apprehensions objectively instead of projecting your fears onto others. As Henry Ford stated: “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.”
Step 2: Know your audience.
When trying to sway others to see your way, keep in mind that some people are thinkers, others are doers, and some are feelers, meaning their focus of attention differs. For example:
- Thinkers tend to be analytically astute, detailed-oriented, objective, and focused on the facts.
- Doers are typically attuned to their gut instincts and want to understand what’s needed to move fast and make things happen.
- Feelers are more emotionally connected and aware of others and will most likely be concerned with the direct and indirect impacts on those involved.
By understanding the mindset of the individual or teams you need to persuade, you can adapt your messaging to match their expectations regarding what is important to them. As Ray Kroc has said, “When it comes to persuasion, emotions usually trump intellect.”
Step 3: Consider your content.
Once you understand the interests of your target audience(s), you can develop your content to include the “WIIFM”—what’s in it for me—messaging for why they should consider what you’re asking of them. And you need to articulate the “WINFY”—what I need from you—to establish an agreed-upon approach. If your ask is career-related, make a connection with how investing in your development helps support your manager’s, team, or company’s objectives. When it comes to putting together your case, less is more. Organize and prioritize what you want to say to allow for a discussion and time to answer questions. A great tool to help you document your thoughts is the message triangle. Your ultimate aim is to make your message concise, compelling, and easy to understand so that others can quickly ascertain their role in the success to increase the likelihood of authentic buy-in.
Step 4: Think through your approach.
Consider how you’re showing up—your body language, tone, energy vibe, and openness to exploring others’ ideas. Consider how you’ll create a safe space and communicate courageously. This includes how you:
- Find common ground: How do your desires or needs match their objectives? What do you both want and need for a successful joint outcome?
- Position what you say: Are you being clear and direct, i.e., explaining the why, what, and how? Are you allowing for questions and dialogue?
- Pause and listen: Are you speaking at a good pace and allowing others time to process what you’re sharing? Are you actively listening and confirming what you heard?
- Remain objective: What is your intention in presenting your case? Are you open to compromise and other perspectives? Are you passing judgment that your way is the only way?
Step 5: Anchor the discussion.
Remember that others may be distracted when joining your meeting. Take a moment to ground everyone on why you asked to speak with them, setting the context upfront with the meeting objective. Indicate why they or their team’s active involvement is crucial for success. Build in time to discuss how to achieve the desired outcomes together and confirm the next steps.
Step 6: Manage the uncertainty.
When working together, be open and honest, prioritize, and follow through. Continue to pose questions and check in with care and compassion. What you say and do are critical for demonstrating to others that you’re serious about x, y, and z. If your request was career-related, process any negative emotions you may be harboring and concentrate on what is going well. Journaling is an effective way to “rage on a page” and then hit delete.
Step 7: Establish regular dialogues.
Although many may feel overwhelmed with calendar requests, it’s essential to determine how to keep each other up-to-date on what was agreed upon. It’s important to acknowledge progress, celebrate milestones, and escalate risks. In terms of career development with your manager, use established connection points to stay aligned on commitments. Most leaders want their employees to be candid and proactive. It makes their job easier when they know what’s important to you and where you may be struggling so they can help you. Check out this previous blog post to drive your career strategy and plan.
If you’re still uneasy, feeling pressure, or not “breaking through the noise” with others, try these four Cs to minimize stress or these ways to amp up your communication. Also, know that you don’t need to go through this alone. My approach is personalized and customized, tapping into various assessments, disciplines, modalities, and techniques. Self-leadership is about getting to know yourself better and applying that knowledge to activate your best for yourself and those around you. If interested, schedule a call to learn more about how I can help you unlock your potential for advancement.