Managing by influence is something every manager should be doing in the workplace. It is the most important skill you need to build a team, trust, and teamwork.
What is Managing by Influence?
Anyone can be a manager. There are people who are born leaders. Some climb the ranks to become leaders, and others, buy their way into leadership. But, what does it mean to manage by influence? How do you get others to do more by influencing them, rather than demanding that they do something?
Let’s start with this small example. As a manager, you can tell an employee to do something. And, the employee will do that task because they don’t want to get fired or demoted.
If you’re sitting in your office, only come out one time a day to give an order, and don’t provide clear direction or guidance, you’re leading by power.
Yes, your employee is going to do what you tell them to do. But, are they going to put forth their best effort, or, are they going to do the bare smallest to make sure the task gets done?
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Managing by influence is about how people respond to your actions. And how they work harder with enthusiasm and put forth the greater effort. Considering the previous example, you can’t order an employee to do their best work, you can order to do their work. And, when you’re pushing them to do something, you’re going to end up with a subdued and demotivated team.
When managing people ask yourself why would they want you to be their manager? Employees follow a manager whose actions and characters they admire. They need to see your actions first before they believe in you.
Your behaviors must be captivating before your employees can act upon them. You must motivate them and keep praising their good work. You have to be supportive, rather than sitting in the office. Don’t be a manager who doesn’t want to come out behind the desk to talk about the progress you’ve seen in their work.
When you manage through influence you become a credible leader. Your employees see you putting in the effort. And they see you guiding them on how they should perform certain tasks.
When they believe you know what you’re doing and you care about how the work’s done, you’re viewed as a credible leader. And, they’re going to put forth greater effort in executing the tasks you ask them to perform during the workday.
Leading by Influence: Mobilize Your Team and Lead Inspire Them
Think about your team for a minute. You work with people, not machines. Employees want to be treated like human beings. It’s up to you, the leader, to make sure you’re influencing them in a manner where they feel comfortable working.
If you yell orders at your employees, they’re going to respond like a machine. They’ll go through the motions and complete the tasks, but that’s about all you’ll get in return.
Now, focus on your role as a team manager, or project manager. When you’re in charge of a project, you want your team to complete tasks in an orderly fashion. If one part of the puzzle is missing, you’re not going to get the project ready on time, or if you do, it’s not going to look good.
When you are managing by influence, people will feel the need to ask for more responsibility. Others might offer to complete a task they weren’t originally assigned.
Managing by influence is not a sole act. If you want to influence everyone, they have to be involved and keep them engaged. It’s about getting everyone working together as a unit, to produce the best outcome.
Do more and put forth your best effort as a leader, and see how well your employees will respond to those actions. Many employees know better than their manager. So, it is best you stay out of their way and give them the freedom rather than pushing them around.
What Influence Management Skills Do You Need?
What skills are necessary for you to influence your team members? Is it about showing up every day and working hard? Yes and no. You still need to know how to manage the team and get them to put forth their best effort.
You must know how to manage and how to align your team to succeed. There are certain skills that create an influencing effect. Everyone who manages people needs those skills to be considered an influential manager.
You need to know how to balance work and managing relationships. It is important that you promote a healthy and friendly collaborative environment.
Managing relationships is about understanding the needs of each member and help them to achieve their personal goals.
To lead others, you need to know how to organize a team, that’s a given. But, when referring to organizational skills, we’re focusing on organizational intelligence. Do you understand how your team is made up?
Managing by influence requires leaders to understand what has to be done to get things done. You understand the constraints of working within an organization, the limits that are in place, organizational politics, and so forth.
There’s a hierarchy in place. And, even if you’re not at the very top. So, you have to understand the organizational hierarchy, how to work around those limitations, and how to get your team to buy into those limitations or constraints. Lead them by example!
Provide Trusting Leadership
If you can’t build trust with your team members, you can force them to work. But you can’t push them to perform at the best levels. Remember, you need to be a positive beacon and show your staff that you trust them. And if they feel you are reliable they will also trust you.
Usually, employees respond well to a manager who understands, supports and inspires them. So, be a good example, and guide them even when things are chaotic and become difficult to complete.
If you don’t know how to get others to trust you, you’re not going to go far in your approach of managing by influence.
Listen!!! People want their voices to be heard. They want their voice to matter. And they want to know whether the work they are doing is contributing to the organization’s goal. If you want to influence others, you must listen to what they want and listen to what they respond well to.
You need to hear the words that are being said, but you also have to hear what’s being implied. This is a little tougher, as your team isn’t telling you something or verbalizing concerns; but, they are showing you with their actions.
When you’re a good active listener, you’ll reverberate to your team members what they’re saying. You’ll have to prove to them that you’re listening and understanding the things they are saying.
It’s easier for you to influence people if you show them that you are listening to both, their desires and concerns.
Asking the Questions Right
Asking the right question at the right time make people eager to provide the answer. Also, the right questions usually stimulate curiosity and commit employees to action. Not all questions encourage personal responsibility.
Closed questions that start with “why” can be felt as accusing, judging and they often need a yes or no answer. So, people tend to turn defensive and disengaged whenever asked closed questions. But, open questions that start with what or how are usually inspires self-accountability.
If you aren’t confident in your work, your skills, and your ability, your team is not going to follow you. Those who manage by influence are going to go out there and get the job done. What you want is to inspire your team to perform their roles at their best.
You should feel confident of your self-worth, rather than on being superior (the boss) to the rest of your team. When people see how confident and lead them at work, they’re going to follow along in your steps.
Self-awareness is about having knowledge of your capability, values, and limitations. Knowing how your behaviors affect your team allows you to regulate yourself. It also makes you keep things in perspective – and accepting that you don’t know everything.
What isn’t being said, might be as (if not more) important than what is being said. When managing by influence, you need to pay attention to people’s moods, attitudes, and thoughts.
You need to observe what’s being done and how the work’s being done. From there, you can step in, work with the team, and influence them through positive actions you’re taking while working side-by-side.
If you aren’t observing how your team’s operating, and issues that are occurring during the workday, it’s impossible for you to lead them to complete the job in the manner it should be completed. They might complete it, but it won’t be at the highest level if they do.
Mentor your Suitable Team Members
Mentoring provides a huge opportunity to manage by influence. It can build a good relationship, trust, honesty, and confidentiality. Above all, it has a good purpose where you and your team members are both committed to the outcomes.
Mentoring means being there for your staff sharing your experiences and offering guidance. Sharing your knowledge gives your employees the confidence and energy to develop.
Influence Your Team Through Action Rather than Dictate How Work Should be Done
Sure, you can sit in the office, send out nasty emails, and make your employees do something. But, at what cost, and how well do you expect them to respond to these commands? If you’re never a part of your team and aren’t getting out there to work with your team, they’ll view you as disinterested, and as a leader who doesn’t care. So, why should they?
Choose to focus your efforts on managing by influence instead. You’ll get more out of your team. Your team members will want to work harder, and they’re going to put forth their best effort. They will become motivated to do more because of the positive work you’re doing. When you carry yourself as a confident and caring manager, your staff feel protected and safe.
Regardless of your role or “title” managing by influence is all you need as a manager or leader. If you want your team and deliver the best results, lead them through influence.