How Leaders Influence and Engage
Humanus Solutions works with leaders to create breakthroughs by engaging people… by influencing how people think and feel, as well as what they do. We say there are five things effective leaders do to influence people. We believe there are five things leaders can do can engage people… five specific things you can do today to influence perceptions… and get people to take different actions, get different results…. five questions you can use to create a break-through.
Choose a Powerful Attitude
If you want to make a change, start with the person sitting in your chair. The first and most important step in influencing how others think and feel is choosing how we think and feel. The most effective leaders choose a powerful mindset: * Responsibility: I’m part of this; I can respond; I’m not a victim. * Possibility: this won’t be easy, but it’s possible. * Commitment: I’m up for this… it matters to me. Consider the things you want people to think and feel less often. * How do you contribute to people thinking / feeling those things? What is it about the way you show up at work that tolerates or encourages this way of thinking? Our initial reaction is, “I’m not the problem! They’re the ones who need to change!”
You may be right… but it doesn’t matter. When we start by saying, “I’m the cause” we are more effective. We stop waiting for others and create the change ourselves. Influencing others begins with our own mindset. Choose an attitude of responsibility. Conversation-worthy questions: * What’s something you’ve done that seemed ‘impossible’ to others? What’s a time when you overcame long odds and succeeded? What enabled you to do it? * We are often reluctant to commit to goals that seem unlikely, or improbable. Why? What’s the payoff for not committing? What price do we pay? * Where in your life have you’ve chosen an ‘attitude of responsibility’ – where you say, “It doesn’t matter who’s fault it is… I’m going to do something about this.” Learn more: * The Three Laws of Performance by Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan * The Last Word on Power by Tracy Goss
Talk About Why
Most conversations at work are about what we’ll do and how or when we’ll do it. If we want to affect the way people think, the conversation that matters is why. The best way to enroll people in your cause is talking about why you’re doing what you’re doing. Help others get clear about their why – why they want to participate in the change you’re making Consider the things you want people to think and feel more often. * Why is this important to you? Why does their safety matter to you If you want people to be switched on, engaged and responsible articulate a compelling why and help others find their own reasons for doing this work! Conversation-worthy questions: * Why do you do this work? You could get a different job… why do this one? * What’s a project you did or a team you were on that you’re proud of? Why do you feel so good about it? Was there a ‘why’ behind that experience? Learn more: * Start with Why by Simon Sinek
Reduce Barriers to Influence
Relationships determine our ability to influence – to lead, help, support… and be led, helped and supported by others. We must develop relationships with the people we hope to influence. This does not mean making friends or ‘schmoozing’ them. It does, however, require conversation: how it is for them, what are they up to and what support do they need? It requires spending time – sitting down together regularly – to maintain open lines of communication and addressing breakdowns or issues that arise. Consider the things you want people to think and feel more often. Who, in your organization, has the most-influence over the most-people and how they think / feel about safety? What could you do to develop your relationship with them?
If you want to influence people, begin by asking, ‘what is my relationship to this group? How can I get to know, understand and connect with them? ’Conversation-worthy questions: * Who has the greatest influence on you and the way you think / feel at work?
How does that influence occur? * Who has influenced you without spending time with you? How did that work? Learn more:* How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work by Robert Kegan * Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joe Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler
Model Desired Behavior in Daily, Routine Actions
It’s easy to give a speech and say the right things, but our actions –small, day-in-day-out behaviors – demonstrate our beliefs and influence others more than our words. Habits are routines we follow in response to specific triggers or situations (we wake up and brush our teeth). “Keystone habits” are routines that promote other desirable behaviors (when we exercise in the morning, it’s likely we’ll eat healthy food later in the day). Leaders are well served to develop “keystone habits” that build relationships, get people talking about why, and promote personal responsibility. For example, effective leaders go to the ‘front-lines’ often and talk to people. They ask questions, express interest and appreciation. * When are you seen by the most people, the most often? What could you do during these moments to model the way you want people to think and feel about safety? Developing habits – automatic, daily, visible behaviors – that demonstrate how you think and feel is an important part of influencing others. Conversation-worthy questions: * What are your habits at work – the things you do automatically, without thinking very much? What are the triggers for those behaviors? * What are some “keystone habits” you could develop – routines that make other good behaviors more likely to occur? Learn more: * Switch by Chip and Dan Heath * Atomic Habits by James Clear
Use Recurring Group Activities Intentionally
Every organization has “rituals” –
meetings that happen every day or week, reviews that happen in response to events, training delivered when someone new joins the team. Because these activities are frequently they are often dull and disengaging. When we tolerate a dull or ineffective meeting we send an undesired message: ‘we’re going through the motions here’, or ‘we have to check this box before we do our real work’. Effective leaders utilize regular, recurring group activities to send constructive messages. They find ways to promote the desired mindset, focus attention on the mission, build relationships, reinforce keystone habits through daily team meetings, weekly management reviews, new employee orientations, etc.
* What are your organization’s “rituals”? Which involve the most people, most often? What messages do these meetings send today, and how could you change them to be more effective? If an organization is going to spend time on an activity every day or week, it makes sense to be intentional about the design, and ensure it has the desired effect. Use your most-frequent meetings to engage and influence people. Conversation-worthy questions: * What was the best daily team meeting you ever attended… or the most-effective incident review, employee orientation, etc. What made it so good?
* Is there a regular meeting we have around here which most people view as ineffective (or worse)? What gets in the way of making it better? Learn more: * The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath