Don't Underestimate your Influence at Work
I know... you are working super hard to climb the corporate ladder! You have your eyes focused on the next promotion or the next project. You are a driven person, I get it. But did you realize that many times, as you are climbing that ladder, that not only are you possibly missing the nuances that make you the go-to person for that promotion or that next project, but you are missing opportunities for job satisfaction.
One of my favorite books, Growing Influence: A Story of How to Lead with Character, Expertise, and Impact, by Ron Price and Stacy Ennis, discusses the relationship between influence and leadership, as well has how to navigate yourself through the various dimensions of each.
Take a moment and identify the most influential people in your organization and on your team. What characteristics make them influential? Is it their character, their expertise, and/or their impact? You may notice that these influential people are dispersed across the company and at all levels. They aren't always senior leadership.
Take that list of people and score them against where they are most influential: Character, Expertise, and Impact.
An example of character is the mid-level analyst at is reliable, trust-worthy, doesn't cut corners and always gives credit where due. Expertise - the technical team member that brings their wealth of knowledge and skill and can design, implement, and fix almost anything. Now, Impact, this is an interesting one. When I think of team members that have been very impactful, I always think of Mrs. Barbara Jones* who was the entrance gate-keeper of sort for the company, as well as a key operations staff member. She had been with the company for 20 years, knew everyone, knew every project, and held the institutional knowledge about everything! Everyone went to her for everything! She held the ear of the senior leadership and she had finger on the pulse of the health of the staff and company's culture. She was able to make tremendous impact across the entire company by just joining in meetings or waving her hand.
Now score yourself against those characteristics. Also consider how your teammates may see you. Where do you lie? Any areas that you excel or could work on? You may be surprised to find that you are more influential or have more potential to influence than you had thought! Below are several tips to further develop your influence and leadership.
Take initiative - don't wait to be asked to take on a project or task, be proactive and offer to help when you can. Also taking initiative on your own professional development builds your expertise.
Build strong relationships - Reach out to different departments and work to build relationships with your colleagues. This can help make communication more effective and foster collaboration. This aids developing your impactfulness.
Be organized - Make sure to stay on top of your work and prioritize tasks to ensure that you’re always ahead of the curve. This aids all: character, expertise, and impactfulness.
Offer solutions - If you encounter a problem, don’t just complain about it, come up with possible solutions. The timing in which you are able to offer solutions can be crucial! You have experience, so bring it to the table! Don't be afraid to speak up. This aids all: character, expertise, and impactfulness.
Believe in yourself - Believe in your skills and abilities and don’t be afraid to take risks. Also don't be afraid to learn something new! Get our of your comfort box. Don’t be afraid of failure either, it’s part of the learning process. This aids: expertise and impactfulness.