Today I would like to share with you a few thoughts about the best way to influence others, based on my experience.
To give you more context, yesterday I came across an article with a very interesting quote from Albert Einstein saying:
“Leading by example isn’t a way to influence, it’s THE way to influence.”
This quote got me thinking, so I carried out a quick retrospective of all the leaders, managers and peers I came across during my career. The aim was to identify which was the most important characteristic that made them great influencers.
As you know, we live in a world of constant change and it’s vital that we keep inspecting and adapting to succeed from a business, professional and personal perspective. So, why is it that, with all our current resources (e.g. Training about Coaching, Influencing, Mindfulness, etc.) influencing others can still sometimes be so difficult? After all, we are already spending most of the time actively listening and communicating with people to influence them (The Art of Influence: Lesson 2 – Listening & Communication Skills).
What is missing to become a great influencer?
My personal belief is that the best influencers I have worked with (following Albert Einstein’s criteria above) were always the ones that led by example. The ones that didn’t ask or try to influence without doing it themselves. Can you ask a single person or a group of people to change or do something if you don’t do it yourself? Is it realistic to expect any behavioral change if you are not the first one demonstrating and giving the first step? How do you think they would see you, what would they think or how would they react in the long run?
For me, the best way to influence and create a huge impact on my day to day work is to show the strength of my convictions by doing myself what I would like others to do; e.g. Changes/Attitudes I would like to see in others.
One great example of influencing by doing is when working with non-development teams and convincing them to adopt Agile. Why I am saying this? Because non-technical teams’ common reaction will be “We are not developers and this doesn’t work for us!” At that moment, what I do is just showcase how my own team works (since we are not a development team) and help them see how adopting Agile could make their day to day work easier. After a few moments, they are the ones saying “Wow! Can we do the same? Can you help us?”. In the long run, the results are stunning and their feedback is great with the will to improve more.
Another example is how my team works, and our overall level of trust and commitment. It’s normal for a leader to provide feedback and challenge the team as well as team members. In our case, they know they can do the same with me. It took some time to build this level of relationship, but nowadays if we need to put in place any action or deploy any workstream, we challenge each other, and even if the solution is not the one initially proposed by me, I will be the first one doing it. This creates a sense of high engagement because they see me as an example.
So what made you be a successful leader? Why not share your experience on how you made it and why you think it worked? It would be great to hear your thoughts even if you don’t agree with this approach.
#Agile #Lean #Leadership #Influence #Change #ContinuousImprovement