In today’s demanding business environment (cost pressures, flatter organizations, more direct reports, “speed to market” as a competitive advantage, etc.) you have limited opportunity to devote time and energy to your own development. Most leaders struggle to meet all of the responsibilities of their positions and are too busy and too stressed to step back and learn from their experiences – or to implement changes that establish best practices. The one thing that is in no one’s best interest is for you, as a leader, to forsake your own learning and development – no matter what level you may be. In the current environment, Executive Coaching is one sure-fire way you can continue to develop your executive-level skills, as well as address your developmental and growth needs (which impacts the entire organization), while continuing to run your organization on a day to day basis. Continue Reading…
Politics has a nasty reputation in business… and elsewhere. Many feel politics is a necessary evil, but the best leaders understand and espouse the idea that a keen comprehension of organizational politics is an absolutely essential component to both organizational and personal success. Political influence is leveraged to promote organizational agendas, as well as personal interests. In order to become the best leader you can be, you need to be able to influence from a political perspective. A critical component to the political perspective is sponsorship and stakeholder engagement. If you engage support from above, laterally and below, you are far more likely to succeed. This equates to political influence – and to influence others requires building relationships of trust… and persuading others to follow. That is what politics is really about.
The truth is that just by being a member of an organization you are committing a political act – in fact, you need to influence people on a constant basis. That is how things get done. To influence, you need power – the real currency at work. In healthy organizations, power is granted by virtue of your ability to inspire and provide vision – up, down and across the organization. Your political influence is a direct result of what you can do for other people.
As a leader, you need to quickly identify those likely to support you and build strong coalitions aligning individual needs with organizational goals, in such a way that fulfillment of collective goals results in automatic fulfillment of individual needs at the same time. Realize, without a doubt, that organizational politics is a function of culture, as well as an indication of trust levels in the organization. It will always serve both individual and organizational agendas.
Think of political influence as simply the art of influencing others to get things done – no used car salesman tactics needed. Despite the bad rap that politics gets, successfully engaging in politics requires the development and use of positive, highly valued skills. For example, research has found that those who espouse political power are more likely to believe they have the power to influence people and outcomes, which motivates them to achieve their goals through positive politics. At best, such confidence is grounded in self-awareness, self-management, and a desire to move people for both organizational and individual benefit. The combination of emotional intelligence and socialized power, can result in influence strategies that cause people to enjoy working together toward common goals.
In order to create political influence, you need to take a strategic approach to politics and should employ the following, as appropriate:
- Spend time with opponents: Most of us spend time with our allies, whom we trust and who agree with us… when the people we have the most to learn from are our opponents.
- Never take anything personally: If it is not personal it is far easier to maintain focus on what we are trying to achieve. It is our choice whether or not we will personalize things that happen.
- Constantly reframe: It is natural to assume that it is “all about us” – the alternative is to recognize that much of politics is about people working to get things done within a diverse community of interests.
- Leverage the power dynamic: Recognize that power can come in several forms: legitimate, referent, reward, expert, and coercive power. Much of politics is based on power – who’s got it and how you can use it to your advantage.
- Build on mutually beneficial interlocking relationships: The better you are at networking, the better you will be at organizational politics.
- Focus on interests, not positions: In the interest of finding common ground, care about people’s interests and ask more questions. Why is this person interested in …? What is s/he trying to achieve? How can you help? How do interests align?
Political Influence is power. No matter who you are, where you work, or what your professional goals are, achieving influence across your organization is critical for success. Gaining influence on a team can help you work together more effectively. Gaining influence in a leadership position can make you more respected and appreciated. Gaining influence in a meeting can make your voice more likely to be heard and acknowledged. You can’t avoid politics… and you shouldn’t. If you choose to opt out, you may be putting your relationships — and your ability to influence others — at risk. Get in the game. Be authentic. Claim your right to guide and inspire others. Broaden your group of friends at work. Learn what it takes in your organization to influence individuals and groups. Do something for somebody else, every day, without thought of personal gain. Treat politics with the importance it requires, as well as with all the seriousness and ethical consideration it deserves.
People who actively steer clear of politics don’t do what the best leaders always do — build strong, positive relationships that serve a purpose beyond themselves – they create resonant relationships built as a result of understanding people and valuing what they bring to the table. These powerful relationships are grounded in empathy as well as authenticity and mutual respect. In such relationships, you will come to know what drives people and what they value – allowing you to inspire, motivate, and influence in a way that makes them feel valued and enables you to get things done. People who avoid politics miss out on all of this, as well as on receiving help, benefiting from mutual support, and even having fun. Politics is really just the art of getting along with others and putting yourself in positions where your work will be noticed. That’s not a negative thing – that is simply the smart thing to do.
You, as a leader, need to inspire people to act by creating clarity and unity of purpose, while building synergies through political influence. We can leverage politics to manipulate others… or to influence them to achieve more than they ever thought possible – which one will accomplish more and move the organization forward faster?
Do you have political influence?
Networking has long been recognized as one of the most powerful tools for business people… all professionals, really. It is the lifeblood of professional success. The relationships you cultivate help you to enable sustainable, profitable business… and your own professional development. Networking is one of the most influential business tools you have at your disposal. When you know how to network effectively, you develop a powerful circle of influence – one that will translate into the growth of your business… and your career. Continue Reading…
Thanksgiving was established as an American national holiday in 1942 by President Roosevelt, however “thankfulness” is by no means exclusive to America. Thanksgiving was (and is) meant as an opportunity for everyone to reflect on and appreciate success and the overcoming of adversity, in addition to the religious connotations. The idea was that success should not be taken for granted and that it is important to actually set aside time, officially and unofficially, to appreciate those who contribute to the collective success – and that concept, my friends, applies to everyone!
From this perspective, no matter where you may come from, Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to recognize, acknowledge and appreciate all of the contributions made to organizational success. Particularly when people are expected to do more with less, work long hours, cross global time zones and move quickly from crisis to crisis, it’s important to pause and say “thank you.” If you want your people to continue working with unbridled energy and commitment, it’s vital to remember that money alone is not sufficient currency – appreciation, in fact, goes a long way toward building an emotional bank account with those who are ultimately responsible for that “collective success”.
The power of creating a culture of thankfulness is unlimited. Recognizing people for going “above and beyond” creates a positive dynamic that motivates individuals and teams to commit their very best to you and the organization. The Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list highlights simply “Thanking People” as one of 9 key practice areas in their Culture Framework. According to Fortune, the Best Companies thank employees personally and in unexpected ways; they thank people frequently and cultivate a “climate of appreciation”. Think about the implications of simply saying “thank you”…
Thanksgiving is a traditional time to give thanks for all that we have been blessed with in our lives – including those we serve, those we serve with and those who serve us. People remember how they are treated in good times… and in bad. Demonstrate “an attitude of gratitude” and it will come back to you many times over.
Have you given thanks to those you work with for all they do for you and the organization?
I am truly thankful for each and every one of you. Have a happy Thanksgiving – whoever you are and wherever you may be from!
Please feel free to contact me at Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.com or by visiting our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com. Next week we will continue with Part 2 of “Influence”.
The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.
― Kenneth H. Blanchard
In your never-ending quest to become the best leader you can be, you need to relentlessly seek new ways to ascend to the next level. But how you influence others along the way has an enormous impact on your ability to climb the ladder of success. How can you use your power and influence to create a level of support
around you that will further both your success… and the organizations?
Throughout history leadership has been critical to performance, to success… and to the greater good. Power in the workplace has traditionally been defined as force, dominance, aggression, strength, and authority. Observations could lead you to conclude that only the most powerful make it to the top and that in order to that level you must bring into play perceived force, dominance, aggression, and strength. Not true…
Today, it is far more critical to understand and leverage the dynamics of influence within power. Learning the art of influence as a tool for positively impacting your surroundings and facilitating the achievement of goals will take you far. Influence is about getting things done in the real world – where politics and personalities often seem to hinder rather than help you. Influence makes things happen, despite the obstacles that might stand in your way. Your implicit theories and feelings about power and influence have a profound impact on how you perceive problems and opportunities, and subsequently, how you decide upon a particular course of action. To develop a realistic point of view, you must become aware of and test your assumptions about power and influence. Here are three resources to help you: Continue Reading…
Innovation. Integration. Motivation.
Once last time, three simple words… Each of these is extremely complex and rarely executed.
In order to win the war for global domination, we must engage both our colleagues and our employees on three key battlefields: Innovation, Integration and Motivation. This week, we will address the third of these combat zones: Motivation.
We don’t need Research to tell us that a motivated, engaged and responsive workforce is substantially more productive than unmotivated, apathetic troops. When workers feel engaged, they are more likely to work harder for the good of the company because they can see first-hand what their contributions mean to its success. Employees who work with passion and feel a deep connection to the company are the ones who drive innovation, take more initiative, deliver higher quality work and move the organization forward.
Want to encourage and inspire motivation? First, understand what motivation at work is – really. Continue Reading…