The Steep Cost of Failing to Influence

Mark, an engineer and technical genius I worked with, was promoted to a leadership role. He was the classic example of promoting a rockstar into a leadership role. When he struggled to lead his team, it was a surprise to everyone.

Mark fell into common yet ineffective leadership pitfalls. He relied heavily on his authority instead of influencing his team to drive results. His communication was blunt, and he lacked empathy. Morale dropped, collaboration stalled, and projects missed deadlines. Recognizing the need for effective leadership, the company replaced Mark with someone who could connect with and influence the team.

Influence is about inspiring others to adopt your ideas, align with your goals, share your emotions, or act on your recommendations. It’s not just persuasion; it’s about impacting thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Influential people blend communication skills, empathy, and strategic thinking to build trust, foster collaboration, and achieve results.

When leaders attend our courses and I ask when they need to influence, their first thought is always during presentations. However, formal presentations are no longer the most common opportunities for influence. In reality, people have many more chances to influence others in everyday interactions, meetings, and informal discussions.

Let’s look at 5 ways leaders will benefit from polishing their influence skills:
  • 1. Leading a Dynamic Work Environment:
    Today’s workplaces are fast-paced and uncertain, presenting challenges for leaders. Without influence skills, leaders may struggle to inspire confidence, make timely decisions, and seize opportunities. Influence skills empower leaders to inspire confidence, rally support, and guide teams through dynamic environments, enabling agile decision-making and organizational resilience.
  • 2. Collaborating Across Diverse Teams:
    Effective collaboration among diverse teams is essential for innovation and success but can be challenging to achieve. Without influence skills, leaders may struggle to bridge cultural and communication gaps, slowing teamwork and alignment. Influence skills foster collaboration by bridging diversity gaps, fostering inclusivity, and uniting teams behind common goals, driving innovation and productivity.
  • 3. Leading Through Change and Uncertainty:
    Leading through change demands clarity, resilience, and effective team mobilization. Without influence skills, leaders may fail to inspire confidence, leading to resistance and low team morale. Influence skills empower leaders to communicate a compelling vision, instill confidence, and motivate teams to embrace change, ensuring stability and organizational resilience.
  • 4. Building Trust and Credibility:
    Trust and credibility are crucial for leadership effectiveness and organizational cohesion. Without influence skills, leaders may struggle to build trust, leading to skepticism and reduced collaboration. Influence skills help build trust through integrity, transparency, and consistent alignment with values. They enable leaders to build strong relationships, earn respect, and foster credibility within teams and across stakeholders, driving collective success.
  • 5. Adapting to Remote and Hybrid Work Environments:
    The shift to remote and hybrid work challenges connectivity and productivity across teams. Without influence skills, leaders may struggle to foster engagement and communication in virtual settings, reducing productivity. Influence skills enable effective navigation of virtual environments by fostering communication, building rapport, and promoting belonging among team members. They empower leaders to mitigate distance-related challenges, maintain team cohesion, and drive productivity in evolving work settings, ensuring continuous engagement and success.
Polishing your influence skills, will better equip you to lead effectively, drive meaningful change, and achieve collective success in any environment.