As organizations have become more matrixed, influencing and communicating your ideas have become more complicated. Especially as more people are now working virtually from home or anywhere around the work, and work is much more distributed.
The old formulas for how to get your ideas through, and influencing across the organization, do not work anymore. Change and disruption have impacted everything from business models and new players on the market, to new platforms, and analytics being the basis of everything.
While the new model of leading an organization has moved to integrated planning, predictive analytics, being a content factory and marketing with agility, mastering your influencing skills is key to truly driving change. Becoming an expert in inspiring people to new ideas and cross functionally is vital to thriving in this new environment. Influencing is more nuanced today, and there are so many more people and concealed stakeholders who now have buy in to an idea.
Unless you are visible, you cannot have the right impact with the right people at the right time. Visibility is critical to having influence and impact inside an organization. It is also one of the keys to career growth. In order for you to get opportunities for growth and promotion, people have to know that you exist. They also have to know about your accomplishments and successes.
Being visible affords you the opportunity to have influence with the right people at the right times. Visibility translates into influence, and influence into inspiring and making an impact. When considering how to gain visibility and influence, you must understand the power dynamics.
I believe that, like a mathematical formula, your visibility plus your influence equals your impact. Element one is visibility, element two is influence, and you add them together and get impact. Many people want visibility (even if it’s being appreciated for a job well done), influence and what they really want? Impact!
Your visibility + your influence = your impact
One of the main ways to become more influential is to amp up your visibility by growing and developing your level of credibility. When people see and experience the good work you do, how you collaborate with others, the level of curiosity you display, and the respect you give others, this shapes your credibility. Your credibility also increases as you honor your word—you do what you say you will do. Your credibility is a measure not just of your own performance, also of how you elevate and help others perform.
Visibility and relationships are closely connected. By focusing on forming, developing and nurturing relationships, people gain insight into what you are doing, how you are doing it and what your team is doing. Those relationships and communications increase your visibility and ability to have impact. Alternatively, if you’re just at your desk, head down and working, you’re not going to get to a place where your ideas can be heard, your creativity can shine, and you can have significant impact in the organization. If we want to be seen and recognized and known, you must amp up your visibility. In order to do so you must increase what I call your “Visibility Quotient.” I created the VQ acronym because for years I was shocked at the amount of time I’ve spent working with executives on increasing their level of visibility and influence.
Your VQ is crucial, because it helps you get to the table and stay at the table.
Being visible affords you the opportunity to have influence with the right people at the right times. While many leadership books and systems ask you to cultivate your Emotional Quotient or your EQ, I’d ask you to also grow your VQ. The paradox is, the more you focus on gaining visibility in an “others focused” world, the further you build your VQ.
Building your VQ is all about building your visibility so as to create greater influence and impact within the organization and on behalf of the organization. It’s not merely to make you shine bright it is also to build the VQ of others. You only have so much time in the day. If you are focusing your energies on building the VQ of your team, then you can all have much wider impact and influence.
To have influence in an organization, you need to first understand who you need to have influence with, and then see how to connect with those people, and build relationships with them based on trust, respect, and safety.
To grow your VQ you must get great at creating Circles of Alignment and identifying Passion Centers.
The Circle of Alignment is a very effective way to develop stronger relationships and increase influence. To create the Circle of Alignment, there are two key things to consider:
1 — Who are the influencers in your organization?
2 — What do they tend to be passionate about?
When you are looking to influence someone, consider what the person is passionate about, and where your passions intersect with theirs. This makes it simpler for you to find common ground, and go on from there to build a valuable and potentially treasured relationship.
After speaking with many people about having more influence in an organization, I have seen that the natural instinct is to think linearly—“I have this project, I have to move it forward, and in order to do that I need so-and-so on my side. How do I either persuade them or bypass them?” That approach doesn’t work well, as it doesn’t engender trust, respect, and safety.
Whereas, if you take the Circle of Alignment approach, you are developing work relationships on the foundation of what you have in common. The connection between you and the other person is coming from a place of genuineness, rather than from angling to push an agenda through.
Sometimes you take it for granted that those with the most authority are the ones with the most influence, but that’s not always the case. Knowing where the power dynamics are in your organization can be tricky because power lies in many layers and at many levels. The old adage that people do business with those they like is also true about influencing. People are influenced by those they like, those they have had a positive experience with, and those they have commonalities with. If you want to create connections with people quickly, then you want to seek out what you both have in common—the “Circle of Alignment” is a wonderful way to do this.
Esther Weinberg is the Chief Leadership Development Officer and Founder of The Ready Zone. To dive deeper into the ideas and strategies offered in this article, complete our Needs Assessment and we’ll schedule time to connect.
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