What does the word “influence” mean to you? Does it imply getting what you want? Convincing someone to change their mind? Do you need positional power or a title and direct reports in order to have influence?
Businesses are increasingly moving towards flat and/or matrix organizational structures and valuing and encouraging collaboration and interdependencies across work groups. The ability to influence in all directions and across all types of relationships is likewise becoming increasingly important. In this brave new world, influence doesn’t simply mean achieving a specific outcome you desire but rather collaborating effectively with and leading others collectively towards commitment, outcomes, and change.
Here are some great reads and resources on influence and influential leadership to help you navigate this important topic, define your personal style, and build your skills:
- Read “What’s Your Influencing Style?” to learn about five primary influencing styles and help determine which one might suit you best. (Harvard Business Review)
- This HBR blog post offers a great summary of five must-read books to help you hone your ability to lead through influence. (Harvard Business Review)
- Learn practical skills to help you gain commitment from people at all levels through this on-demand webinar “Influence: Gaining Commitment and Getting Results.” (Center for Creative Leadership, registration and fees required)
- Another useful — and free — resource from Center for Creative Leadership is “Myths of Effective Leadership,” from their Leading Effectively podcast series, which explores how influence can be eroded over time as people advance in their careers. (Center for Creative Leadership, podcast)
- Struggling with how to influence without relying on authority? Jesse Lyn Stoner provides practical tips that can help increase your confidence and comfort with this skill. (Jesse Lyn Stoner’s blog)
- David Armano offers a great take on how a new model of influence is emerging through social media and provides practical tips on how to harness this technology. (Harvard Business Review)
- Persuasion is closely linked to influence, and is an important communication skill to build. Listen to this podcast from our Career Conversations series to learn practical techniques for persuading others. (CFA Institute)
- In a similar vein, Robert Cialdini explores traditional tactics used to persuade and finds that those who are most successful focus on the relationship at hand. (Harvard Business Review)
- Leadership and influence are often linked together synonymously, but is that really the case? Scott Yorkovich tackles this topic and argues that influence is a result of effect of leadership but should not be considered its essence. (Lead Strategic)
- Are you a leader looking for resources on how to manage and adapt in a matrix framework? Ruth Malloy explores this topic and the competencies required in a recent HBR blog post. (Harvard Business Review)
- Not convinced? Read this thought piece on why influence matters. Another good take on this topic is from Shirlaws’s blog. (N2growth and Shirlaws)
- What are the consequences if you don’t want or don’t choose to influence others? Linda Hill and Kent Lineback explore this topic from the perspective of leaders and managers. Another good read from these authors delves into the consequences of avoiding conflict and office politics and how that can ultimately impact your own ability to exert influence and build working relationships. (Harvard Business Review)
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Please note that the content of this site should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute.