Episode 14: 7 Key Ways to Build Influence As A Leader

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In this episode, we discuss 7 key ways to build influence as a leader. Influence is vital as a leader because, without influence, your effectiveness as a leader will be highly limited. Your position will only take you so far. You need influence.

In this episode you’ll hear:

  • Introduction to the Importance of Influence in Leadership
  • Building Trust with Your Team
  • Trusting Your Team as a Leader
  • Build Relationships and Care About Your People
  • Be a Competent Leader
  • Take Ownership and Give Credit to Your Team
  • Admitting Your Mistakes
  • Asking for Feedback Builds Influence
  • Accepting Feedback and Building a Culture of Feedback
  • Doing the Dirty Work Builds Respect and Influence

Resources Mentioned

Good To Great by Jim Collins

Full Episode Transcript

Introduction to the Importance of Influence in Leadership

As a leader, you want to have influence with your team. Why?

Because without influence, you will not get very far as a leader.

Because when you try to lead with position and position only, position will only take you so far.

People will just do the bare minimum to get by, but they won’t really follow you.

[00:40]

To get people to follow you, you need influence. Influence is the relationship and respect you have with and from your team that causes them to want to follow you and to act with and for you.

So that leads to the question of how do you build influence with your team as a leader? Well, I have seven ways to build influence with your team right here, and there’s even a bonus one for you at the end.

1. Building Trust with Your Team

[01:05]

Number one: To build influence with your team, you have to be a person they can trust.

Why? Well, think about it. If they can’t trust you, why would they follow you?

Tell me. If you had a leader who you couldn’t trust very well. Let’s say that when they tell you something, you couldn’t rely on them for what they said. You weren’t sure if it was true. If they said they were going to do something, you weren’t sure if it was going to happen.

You weren’t even sure how honest they were in their dealings with maybe different things in the company.

Would you trust that person? Do you want to follow that kind of person? How much influence would that person have over you?

My guess is not very much. You have to build trust with your team.

To build influence with your team, you have to be a person they can trust. ~ Thomas R. Harris Click To Tweet

[01:45]

Trust builds confidence. So how do you do that?

Well, you do what you say you’re going to do. You be honest.

You don’t hide information from them. And if there’s stuff that you can’t tell them for legal or other reasons, you let them know why you own up to your mistakes.

You don’t cut corners. You do what is right, even when nobody’s looking.

Be a person that people can trust and they will respect you even more and you will build your influence with them.

Trust builds confidence. ~ Thomas R. Harris Click To Tweet

2. Trusting Your Team as a Leader

[02:13]

Number two: Trust your team.

To build influence, you need to have trust in your team.

Think about it. If a leader you had always came to you and was always looking over your shoulders, micromanaging you, controlling you, making sure you did things a certain way because they didn’t believe you could do it on your own with that person, have much influence on you.

Would you want to follow that kind of person?

My guess is no. So you need to be the kind of person that trusts their team as a leader when you micromanage your team or try to control them or make sure they do things right or control how they do things, it’s going to hurt your influence with your team because you’re not trusting them.

[02:58]

As a leader, you want to set clear expectations of how the outcome should look and then you want to release your people to do it and trust them in their own way to get there.

Now it’s true each person needs a different level of involvement if they’re new. You may have to be more hands-on with them.

Certain people may lack confidence and you may have to help support them and then encourage them along the way. But you’re not controlling them. You’re supporting them.

[03:25]

Now, you may say, Hey, Thomas, I can’t trust my people. They never do what they’re supposed to be doing.

Well, let me tell you this. If that’s the case, the problem is you, not them, because you have to look at it in the sense of what are you doing as the leader to make it where you can’t trust them.

Are you setting clear expectations? Do they really understand what they’re supposed to do?

It’s easy to make assumptions that they see it the way we see it, but that’s often not the case.

So make sure your expectations are clear. Make sure they’re trained as much as they need to, make sure you give them the time and resources they need and make sure it’s the right person for the right job.

And really, if this person is incapable, are they in the wrong seat or did you just hire the wrong person?

See, if you can’t trust them, it’s on you as the leader, not on them.

Also Read: What is the Essence of Leadership?

3. Build Relationships and Care About Your People

[04:16]

Three: Build relationships with your people and care about them.

Think about it in your own life. If you have a leader who doesn’t take any time to get to know you, maybe not even know your name, doesn’t know anything about you, and doesn’t really seem to care about you or appreciate anything that you do.

How motivated are you? Is that person going to have much influence over you?

How much and how far will you follow that person? Probably not that far.

As a leader, you need to build relationships with your people and care about them, learn about them, get to know their dreams and career goals, and if possible, help them accomplish those goals.

Care about them as people. Show respect for them as people. Listen to them and their ideas.

Tell them thank you and show them appreciation. Nobody wants to be treated as a cog.

Build that relationship with your team and care about them.

As a leader, you need to build relationships with your people and care about them ~ Thomas R. Harris Click To Tweet

4. Be a Competent Leader

[05:10]

Number four: Be competent to build influence with your team.

You can’t just have good relationships with them. You also have to be competent in your job and your leadership and what you do.

Think about it. If you have a boss who’s really nice and cares about you, but he or she never can get anything done, they can never decide on anything and everything goes nowhere, will that person have much influence over you? Because when that happens, you’re just a nice person, not a good leader.

You see, a leader, what a leader is supposed to do is influence a group of people toward the accomplishment of a goal.

If you’re just building that relationship but not accomplishing anything, then you’re not really leading. And nobody wants to follow someone who never is able to get anything accomplished. So if you’re not that competent, how do you become more competent?

Well, learn. Take some time to read books, take courses, ask for help, and ask for feedback that will help you grow and be a more competent leader.

5. Take Ownership and Give Credit to Your Team

[6:14]

Number five: Take ownership and give credit to be an effective leader to build that influence.

When things go wrong, you have to be a leader who takes ownership of those.

And when things go well, you pass the credit on to your team and to other people.

Jim Collins in Good to Great called it The Mirror and the Window.

He said the best leaders were those who, when things went well, would look out the window and pass all the credit to other people, to their team, to circumstances, and even to luck but they were humble and didn’t take the credit themselves.

When things went wrong, though, they looked in the mirror and looked at themselves.

The not-as-good leaders did the opposite. When things went bad, they looked through that window and blamed their team and other people and circumstances and so on.

But when things went well, they looked in the mirror and just adored themselves for how great they were.

[07:10]

You see, as a leader, you are responsible for everything you do and that your team does. So when something happens, don’t blame.

Take ownership. And the thing is, when you take ownership, it looks good on you.

Not bad. When you blame other people, that makes you look like a weak leader.

When you say, Yep, a mistake happened and this is what we’re going to do to fix it. People respect you for that.

When you’re looking to blame, you’re not working towards solving the problem. And think about it. If you’re blaming your team for the problem, what can the influences that have on your team be?

Not much. And give credit where it’s due. Give it to your team. Think about a time when you’ve done something or worked hard as a team or individual and someone else takes all the credit.

How does that make you feel? Probably not good.

As a leader, if you want to build that influence and goodwill when your team does well, don’t take the credit.

Pass it to your team.

6. Admitting Your Mistakes

[08:10]

Number six: Admit mistakes and when you don’t know. If you want to build influence as a leader, you have to admit when you are wrong and when you don’t know.

You see, sometimes leaders, especially when they’re new, feel like if they admit a mistake, it makes them look weak as a leader.

Or they feel that as a leader they have to know everything. And if they admit they don’t know something, people will look down upon them.

[08:36]

But let me tell you something. Here’s a hint. Nowhere in the book does it say you’re supposed to know everything. You aren’t. You can’t.

As a leader, you’re going to make mistakes. You’re human. You’re a person. It’s expected.

And the thing is, people already know you’ve made those mistakes. They see it when you try to hide it and pretend you didn’t make a mistake, people notice and you lose respect from those people.

When you don’t know something and pretend you know, eventually, it will come out and you’ll lose respect for that.

And not only that, when you don’t ask when you don’t look for that information, you’re not learning. And if you’re not learning, you can’t make the best decisions.

You can’t solve the problems the best because you’re afraid to ask.

Also Read: Leadership Mistakes: 3 Must-Do Steps To Overcome Effectively

7. Asking for Feedback Builds Influence

[09:21]

Number seven: Ask for feedback. If you want to build influence as a leader, be a leader who asks for feedback.

Think about this. Let’s say you go to a meeting and your leader does a terrible job in the meeting. It just doesn’t seem prepared. It’s a boring meeting. It just doesn’t go well.

After the meeting, your boss calls you to his or her office and says to you, “Hey, I just want your feedback. How do you think that meeting went? I don’t think it went so well. I would really appreciate your honesty.”

And let’s say you overcame your fears that you might have and you told them the truth about the meeting and what they could do better next time.

And then your boss says, “Thank you. I really appreciate that. I’m going to work on it.”

What would you think about that, boss? Did your respect grow more for that person because of that?

Do you think you’d be willing to follow a person that does those things? Probably so.

[10:14]

You see when you’re a person who’s willing to learn, who’s willing to be vulnerable, who’s willing to ask for feedback and actually listen to it, that builds your influence with people.

Actually, it’s a double whammy because you build influence and you learn, you grow, and you get better.

If you want to build influence as a leader, be a leader who asks for feedback. ~ Thomas R. Harris Click To Tweet

Accepting Feedback and Building a Culture of Feedback

[10:32]

So as a leader, be someone who asks for feedback from your team, and accepts it.

Tell them that you want it, that any time they have feedback, come tell you. And when they come to tell you, don’t argue. Don’t get defensive. Just say thank you.

You don’t have to agree with everything. Sometimes people are wrong, but you can see what other people’s perspectives are.

You can learn more about yourself and about them, and you build that respect.

And not only that, but that opens the door for feedback in general on your team, because your team will be much more open to feedback from you if you’re willing to hear it from them.

Not only that, it can start building a culture where feedback is normal, where we’re willing to talk to each other to help people get better, not worrying about just looking good.

So those were the seven tips to build influence. And now here’s your bonus.

BONUS: Doing the Dirty Work Builds Respect and Influence

[11:25]

Number eight: Do the dirty work with your team. If you want to build influence with your team, be willing to do the dirty work with them.

You see, sometimes hard tasks and difficult projects come along and it’s tough on your team.

Sometimes they’re having a hard time starting. Be willing as a leader to take the lead, to jump in and do the dirty work with them.

[11:46]

By doing so, you build respect from your team because it shows that you don’t think you’re above them but with them and are willing to do the work with them.

Yes, as a leader or manager, whatever your position is, you likely have other tasks and duties. So obviously, you can’t do the work with them the whole time.

But being willing to jump in when you can speaks a lot to your team about who you are as a person and a leader and it builds your respect and influence with your team.

So follow those principles and you will start building influence with your team.

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of No More Bad Leaders. If this episode meant something to you, I would be honored if you share it with someone who would benefit from it. You can find more episodes here.

If you have any comments, questions, or inquiries, feel free to contact me.

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