Influence: Gaining Commitment and Getting Results
Leadership is about influencing others, to think differently or to behave differently. As a dental leader, you will be significantly more successful when you understand change and how to influence it in others.
In my last article I talked about three primary influence tactics – Head, Heart and Hand. We start with the Head tactics because when you are trying to get people to be committed to a change it has to make logical sense to them first. Then you can move forward with the other tactics that best align with their needs.
Keep in mind that most people have a resistance to changes in the workplace as they are used to certain habits, comfort zones and paradigms. In most cases, however, people don't resist change, they resist being changed. As such, you cannot ‘motivate’ your employees to change. But, you can establish the conditions under which your employees motivate themselves. That’s called influence. Here is a six step model to maximize your success in influencing your team.
Step 1: You
To influence others successfully means you have to know yourself first. This includes your needs, goals and your personality. Identify your strengths and how these characteristics will help you to communicate effectively. It also is important to know what hinders you as you dialogue with each employee. If you don’t have a reputation of trust, credibility and flexibility with your staff consider leadership training.
Step 2: Your Employees
People are not always linear logical machines. Human nature is amazingly complex when it comes to how we frame the choices we ultimately make. Many of those choices are determined by our life values, beliefs.
How do you know an employee’s individual goals or values? Ask them! After all, leadership is about building relationships with your constituents. It’s also helpful to look at their desk or office area to find pictures, mementos or anything that would give you a view into their personal world. Once you have an understanding of their personality and other factors to their situation you will know what’s important to them according to their Head, Heart and Hand needs. Do your homework!
Step 3: Build Your Influence Message
Based on the information you have from Steps 1 and 2, construct your influence conversation. Plan how you will use H-H-H Tactics and effective communication skills to deliver your message. Write out a script. Practice!
Step 4: Conduct Influence Session
The way in which you interact with others has a major bearing on your success as an influencer. Demonstrate friendliness, warmth and approachability. Use effective communication skills, especially listening and empathy. Ask relevant questions and look for common ground. Emphasize the areas and points of agreement. Respect the other person’s right to an opinion, even if it differs from your own. Be aware of natural temperaments. Some people are more open and move more quickly to a new approach or system. Others are more cautious. Not everyone will move at the same rate.
Step 5: Create Win-Win Outcomes
The goal of influencing others is to gain true commitment, not just compliance which is simply ‘lip service’. When people are internally fully committed to your suggestions it takes less external monitoring. They are more likely to follow through and will bring much more energy, good will and effort moving forward. Develop an action plan with your employees about how they will implement the steps to which you both agree. Be flexible wherever it is possible.
Step 6: Collect Ongoing Feedback
In each step, listen carefully and use information to debrief, adjust, and adapt your message and approach. This is the beginning of influence. The real process is the on-going feedback. Meet with your employees. Continue to discuss the changes you have proposed. Monitor their commitment level to be sure they are still truly motivated for their reasons, not yours. Your ability to understand what drives the people on your team is a key factor in productivity and profitability. If you want an employee to change, you have to help her/him decide the change is in their best interest.
Successfully influencing others is an invaluable skill you can learn to do more effectively. I assure you that the more adept you are at appealing to the needs of others, the sooner you’ll negotiate your way from confrontation to cooperation.
To strengthen your ability to influence your team, contact Dr. Haller at email@example.com.
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