Influencing Upwards, And Outwards
Updated: Aug 25
Time for the harsh truth: In the corporate world, just talent isn’t enough to move up the ladder. What you need is the ability to influence the people who matter- your boss, and your clients. It is these decision-makers that determine whether or not your ideas see the light of day, and their perception of you can influence your career immensely.
We kick off the August series with some of our thoughts on influence. All through this month and the next, we will be talking about influence as a determinant of success both in professional and personal spheres, and show you just how to make things happen. So, how do you begin influencing a party that clearly has more leverage in a situation than you do?
Ways to Influence A Stronger Party
1. Empathise: Hard as it is for so many of us to see our bosses as just people with responsibilities, that’s exactly who they are. The first tip on the list is also the hardest to implement because it demands that you put yourself in shoes you’d rather not be in (and maybe even hate) and see things as they see it. The rationale behind this action is that when you understand their needs, you will be able to suggest solutions that make sense to them. In other words, your ideas wouldn’t be so far out there that they just don’t get it.
2. Persuade: Why just walk in with a brilliant idea, when you can walk in with said brilliant idea and research? Quotes, statistics, facts- they all have a much better chance of driving a point home than just your speech on the subject. It also helps to send your boss or a client a brief of what to expect from the discussion with you. If an idea is in the execution stage, ask the other person how often, and on what aspects, they’d like to be kept posted.
3. Set Expectations: How exciting it is to reach for the stars! However, we highly recommend that you don’t set stars as the expectation with your bosses and clients. Promise what is realistic. By all means, try and do better. But let the discussion happen around what is realistically possible. Also, put down the hard numbers. “Getting traction on social media” is hardly measurable, but “getting 10,000 followers on Instagram” is a target.
4. Offer Information: This is especially relevant in client presentations. Most clients are paying for every ounce of the service you provide, and they want to know just what is happening with the money. Offer information in a form that they find easy to consume, and support with live demonstrations, on-call support, and setup. Keep sending them updates from time to time.
5. Admit Mistakes: Saying you’ve been wrong is one of the best ways there is to build trust. Anyone willing to admit they were wrong is that much more likely to tell the truth in all circumstances. As you know, all the fluff in the world would amount to nothing if there is no sincerity in what you’re saying. So, don’t shy away from owning a mistake, and definitely, don’t push it on to someone else. Admit your role in what went wrong.