Influence

Influence is identified as one of Matter’s top soft skills that is linked to performance and career success.

What is Influence?

Great leaders understand that influence is more than just persuasion or power. It’s about inspiring people around you to share a common vision or goal. It’s about getting buy-in rather than strong arming someone into following your ideas blindly.

As Paul Larsen puts it, “influence is having people follow you because of what you represent.”

Skill badge for: Influence
Matter’s Definition of
Influence

Convinces others to listen and do things that positively impact the team or company.

Matter is based on an ontology of over
30 recommended skills.

Great Influencers You May Know

Anne Wojcicki
Anne Wojcicki

After starting the biotechnology firm 23andme, Wojcicki learned through genetic testing that her former husband was at high risk for Parkinson’s disease. Shortly after that event, the Federal Drug Administration banned her company from offering that same kind of genetic insights to consumers. Not one to back down from a challenge, Wojcicki influenced the FDA as an advocate. She spoke with anyone who was willing to talk with her: scientists, politicians, lawyers, and customers. It took two years of hard work, but eventually, the FDA relented. Wojcicki won the right to offer this kind of life-changing data and analysis to consumers once again.

Mary Barra
Mary Barra

Within days of taking the helm of General Motor, Barra faced a major crisis: a defect that caused the deaths and injury of a hundred drivers and passengers. Rather than making excuses and hiding from the problem, she admitted fault and recalled 30 million vehicles. In a company all-hands, Barra reminded her team, ”I never want to put this behind us. I want to put this painful experience permanently in our collective memories.” By apologizing and taking ownership of the problem, she regained trust from the public and her team.

Safra Catz
Safra Catz

When she first joined Oracle, Catz’s influence was immediately recognized, which led to her being promoted to vice president within seven months. Not only did Catz influence those around her, she also won the trust of Larry Ellison, the CEO at the time. In one meeting, Ellison mentioned he had somewhere else to be at and attempted to leave the meeting. ”Safra grabbed him by the arm,” recalls one participant, ”and said, ’Larry, you can’t leave. This is important. And I know you have the time for this.’ And he sat back down. No one else at Oracle could do that.” Today, Catz is co-CEO of Oracle and one of the most influential executives in Silicon Valley.

Why Influence Is Important

Innovation

Innovation

Leaders lead through influence, not authority. They inspire people to share a common goal and empower them to act. When individuals feel like they are heard and part of a vision, they’re more collaborative and invested to success.

Respect

Respect

Influence is about putting in the effort and hard work. Leaders influence by demonstrating to their team that they’re an equal and are willing to roll up their sleeves to get work done.

Trust

Trust

Leaders influence not only through decisions, but also the people around them. They know when to admit fault and apologize. Trust is built when your teams know that you’re someone who’s genuine and authentic.

What Influence is NOT About

Pressure

Pressure

Influence is not about pressuring or forcing others to do things your way. While standardized processes are important for efficiency, leaders know how to influence others to do their best work and offer their best ideas.

Manipulation

Manipulation

Great leaders never view influence as control. They understand that nobody, whether it be a peer or customer, wants to feel like they are being manipulated. Leaders focus on getting buy-in over deploying tricks.

Calling The Shots

Calling The Shots

Leaders never let their influence get into their head. They don’t take their influence for granted. As a matter of fact, leaders influence more when they listen over decision making.

Abilities That Lead To The Mastery of Influence

Apologizing when appropriate

Apologizing when appropriate

Apologizing sparingly doesn’t undermine your influence. Rather, it can strengthen your appeal to those around. Apologies can build trust in those around you by demonstrating “empathic concern.”

Connecting emotionally

Connecting emotionally

While many people like to see graphs and numbers to help make a decision, connecting with people emotionally will help you be more influential. People like to feel a bond with others. It’s what makes us feel like we want to help others out. The ability to connect on an emotional level with others will help you gain their support with your work initiatives.

Cultivating your personal brand

Cultivating your personal brand

Influential leaders consciously and proactivity manage their personal brand and reputation. A personal brand can be defined as “what people say about you when you are not there”. It is made up of a number of key elements from how you present yourself, what you say and what you don’t say, and who you associate with.

Giving lots of praise

Giving lots of praise

Giving lots of praise: Always be authentically praising your peers, even when you actually want to improve someone’s performance. While it might sound counterintuitive to praise someone who needs to improve their performance, it’s an effective technique.

Helping others succeed

Helping others succeed

The most effective leaders realize that success is not about them personally but more about the success of others and their team. Leadership is about helping others to become more successful and removing any potential barriers, such as company politics, a negative culture or excessive bureaucracy, that might hinder that success.

Listening more

Listening more

People with the most influence are the best listeners, not talkers. Research shows that people who listen well can reap both informational and relational benefits that make them more influential. That’s because hearing what colleagues have to say fosters two key elements for gaining influence: forming trust and learning new information.

Maintaining composure

Maintaining composure

Everyday management situations can incite fight-or-flight emotions in any reasonable person. Demanding customers, employees, and misdirection from leadership can create frustration and rising emotions in even the most seasoned managers. An essential element of leadership is maintaining your composure, no matter the scenario.

Making new connections

Making new connections

Successful leadership depends on making new connections. A mountain of research shows that making new connections leads to an improved capacity to influence others, and greater status and authority.

Saying “yeah” more

Saying “yeah” more

When you begin a response with the positive word, “yeah,” you’re “framing a suggestion as an agreement with a previous suggestion”. When your idea “comes across as if it were in line with the previous thoughts by others, the suggestion has a higher chance of being accepted.”

Smiling more

Smiling more

When you smile more, you create a more positive atmosphere which will result in a more positive attitude in both yourself and in your teams. When you smile more, it builds a stronger connection with your teams and makes you more approachable. It also makes you appear more approachable, and people love to feel connected to their leaders.

Treating everyone equally

Treating everyone equally

Nearly everyone has their favorite go-to person for sharing information, leading projects, asking for advice, etc. However, as an inclusive leader, you must keep a watch on this behavior. Favoritism can decrease morale, act as a de-motivator for the team, dampen performance and increase attrition.

Working hard and consistently

Working hard and consistently

Being a consistent hard worker and performer will gain you respect which in turn will help you be influential at work.

Who can benefit from practicing Influence?

Explore Complementary Skills to Influence

Influence shouldn’t be practiced in a vacuum. Improve your Influence by exploring and developing these complementary skills.

Learn. Improve. Grow.

Our mission is to help everyone reach their career aspirations and achieve their professional goals.