It’s not unusual to hear someone on a coaching call say they don’t feel their boss pays much attention to what they have to say. When I ask the probing question of how much influence you have developed with your boss, it gets quiet. Many of us spend so much time heads down in our work that we don’t think about the importance of developing influence up the organizational ladder.
Consider the Source
When I was a kid, and someone said something hurtful to me, my mom would encourage me by telling me to “consider the source.” Well, that’s what most of us do on a day-to-day basis when people at work or home are trying to inform or educate us about something happening in their world. When you “consider the source,” you are essentially saying, how much influence does this person have with me? If a lot, you listen. If not a lot, you focus on other things. So, how do you develop greater influence with your boss or others in leadership positions in your organization?
The Hardest Person to Lead
The first question most people want answered before they will permit you to influence them is, how well are you leading the most difficult person to lead? And who would that be? Ah, YOU! That’s right; how you lead yourself is a great first indicator of whether someone will allow you to influence them. If you can’t lead yourself, why would I allow you to lead me?
How would someone know if you lead yourself well? My experience has taught me that people who lead themselves well hold themselves to a higher standard than the world usually expects from people. This is evidenced by how well you manage your time, how well you manage your priorities, how well you manage your emotions, and how well you manage your personal life. People are watching you all the time to see how your walk lines up with your talk.
What Does Your Boss Need from You?
When I became a leader of a team of people, the ones who had the most influence with me were the ones that lightened my load by the way they handled their role and responsibilities. Leaders are not positively influenced by followers who overwhelm them with email, question everything they say, complain, complain to others, and constantly bring the leader problems without possible solutions.
If you want to lighten your leader’s load, and thus increase your influence with them, start by doing your job exceptionally well. Demonstrate an “I got this” attitude. When you see a problem, solve it, or develop possible ways to solve it before bringing it to your leader. Leaders are influenced positively by followers who take responsibility for the outcomes they have been assigned. When you work well with others and support the leader and others on the team, your influence will grow.
Can Upward Influenced be Coached?
If you are the leader, you can help your followers be better at increasing their influence with you. When you equip and empower each person to do their job well, you set them on a course to lighten your load in the long run. Also, help them to become better decision-makers by inviting them to have a voice in the vision and direction of your organization. When followers feel valued, they engage at a completely different level than someone who does not. Coach your teammates to lead-up and watch the performance of the team and the outcomes they drive increase.
Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with the John Maxwell Company’s Corporate Solutions Group as well as a published author. He has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.