How to Build Trust and Influence as a Leader (So others love following you)Nov 10, 2022
This is maybe the number one question I get from most leaders and one of the biggest frustrations for people leading teams.
And they ask it in different ways. They may ask how do I get my team to believe? How do I get my team to understand the vision of the organization? How do I get people to perform in the way that we're asking for? How do I influence my team? How do I direct them in times of challenge? How do I get them to change their behavior? How do we get them to implement something new throughout the organization? How do I get them to understand what's necessary and possible? How do I get them to buy in? How do I get them to believe in the vision?
And it's an immense frustration for most leaders. And the higher up you go, the more frustrating it can be because if you're a founder or a CEO or a sales leader, you're leading a large organization or team, and you understand that you do need a team that buys in. The worst thing that can happen in our organizations are the infighting or the gossip or the backstabbing and the undermining of leadership conversations and intentions.
When you, as a leader, ask for something to be done or organized, you're asking for something that is needed. New coordination; new people working together in a new way; new actions and thinking and results; and often, you ask for people's creativity in making it happen.
However, even great leaders are left wondering, “Does the team buy in? Do they believe in this?” And you'd be asking that because you don't see the results. You don't see a behavior change with the team that you know is required for them to implement and execute the plan.
As a leader, you may be just entering leadership or be in this game for 20 or 30 years like me; no matter where you find yourself in the spectrum, this applies to everyone.
So, let's start with the basics. Please think about a great leader in your life. I want you to think about somebody who's mentored you and whom you trust. Someone that you go to that influenced you and helped shape who you've become as a leader...
Okay. Just think about that one person right now.
So now please think about the qualities of that person.
Why is it that you felt comfortable going to them for advice? Why do you consider them great leader? Why do you buy into their vision? Why do you trust them?
Okay. Now I would suggest that for many of you, the answer to those questions is about how they listen to you.
And I'm suggesting that this is a leader's primary skill and quality to have people buy in. It's not so much what you say. It's not so much what you're communicating. It's not so much you pounding your fist on the table or repeating yourself; all of that's required from time to time, but it's more about how you're listening.
Are you listening to your people? Are you seeking to understand their views? Are you hearing their concerns? Are you understanding how their job is for them in reality?
Do they know that you get their world?
Think about the person you go to as a mentor, they listen to you, don’t they? The old saying, “seek first to understand then to be understood,” is the access.
In your one-on-one conversations with the people you lead, are you listening? Are you seeking to understand first before you seek for your view to be
understood? Because if I am doing that, I will learn and discover how they see the world. I'm going to understand how they view the company, how they view their job, and what challenges they're dealing with.
And I'm going to learn how to introduce new objectives so they can hear them and ultimately hold those goals as their own. I can share what the organization is up to, or what I'm up to as a leader, with them in a way that has an opportunity for them to engage because we're looking at this together.
So, the foundation of building trust and influence is first for you as a leader to have the kind of values for yourself where you authentically care about what other people are dealing with, and you're looking from their perspective.
You're looking at what you need to accomplish as a leader, and you're being thoughtful in your approach, in how you're introducing new initiatives to the organization, and in how you're launching new programs. You're thinking, how will this new program impact others? What might they deal with in their day-to-day? That's a change. And if I were in their position dealing with this new change in the organization, how might I interact with them?
Would I be frustrated? Would it show up for me as a barrier to me doing my job? Although you think it's a good idea as the leader, is it a good idea in their world?
Then it would help if you designed conversations throughout the organization to address those considerations responsibly, in which they understand that you've understood that this may disrupt their day, their workflows, and their commitments.
Building trust and influencing others as a leader starts with your willingness to understand what they're dealing with, and then work with them to implement and execute what's needed for the business.
At the end of the day, this is not letting go of the goal. This is about absolutely ensuring it happens.
It's about having the influence required as a leader to make big things happen because you already have a foundation of trust.
Find more resources on leading your team to success here.
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