Identify and Increase Your Range of Influencing Tactics
Are you a confident influencer in your workplace, or do you feel limited by your role or by your personality?
Imagine that you’re in charge of a marketing team that specializes in creating high-quality print materials. Now, there are compelling business reasons for introducing social media to the mix. All the research data available to you suggests that this will lead to more exposure and create business opportunities in previously untapped markets.
However, you’re unable to persuade your people that the change is a positive one. Some are resistant, while others only accept begrudgingly. Their motivation appears to be at an all-time low, so you know that just asserting your authority isn’t the answer. You’re in damage-control mode.
This is your opportunity to learn some new influencing styles and to keep your team onside. Take this quiz to help you identify your strengths. Then, use our feedback to develop a range of approaches to use in different situations with different people.
How Good an Influencer Are You?
For each statement, click the button in the column that best describes you. Please answer questions as you see them (rather than how you think you should see them), and don’t worry if some questions seem to score in the “wrong direction.” When you are finished, please click the “Calculate My Total” button at the bottom of the test.
|16-34||You have a limited ability to influence different people in different situations. This will increasingly become a problem over time, as workplace hierarchies become flatter and co-operation and collaboration with different teams and cultures become more common.
You may assume that, because you are their manager, you will automatically be able to influence your team members. However, being a manager doesn’t mean that your people will automatically want to follow you. Be careful not to rely too much on facts and data – you’ll have to convince people’s hearts as well as their minds.
There are strategies that will allow you to do this. (Read below to start.)
|35-59||You are able to adapt the way that you influence others, but there is plenty of room for improvement. Perhaps you need to work on how you use facts and figures to produce a convincing argument, or you may have trouble debating and thinking on your feet.
Have a good look through your answers and pinpoint where you scored lowest. You may need to strengthen one area or a few. (Read below to start.)
|60-80||Well done! You are a strong influencer who can use more than one way to convince colleagues of your plan’s strengths. You can use both logic and emotion; you work with others and communicate well; and you demonstrate both the positive aspects of your plan and the negative aspects of the alternatives.
Check your results to see where you may have picked up a low score, and then look at our tools and strategies to see how you can become even more influential. (Read below to start.)
This quiz is based on Dr Tim Baker’s Four Strategies of Influence. He outlines two basic styles of influencing: a “push” style, which is a direct, assertive, convincing way to get your point across, and a “pull” style, which is a more subtle, indirect method. Both styles can be implemented using either logic or emotion.
Different strategies work with different people in different situations, so there’s no one perfect way to influence everybody all of the time. This quiz will help you to find out which strategies you are already competent in, and which you may need to work on so that you can become a more rounded influencer.
Learn more about these strategies and hear how you can access Baker’s own assessment on influencing styles with our Book Insight, “The New Influencing Toolkit: Capabilities for Communicating With Influence.”
The four strategies are summed up in the personas of the Investigator, the Calculator, the Motivator, and the Collaborator. Let’s look at them in more detail.
(Questions 2, 3, 6, 10, 11, 15)
“Investigators” draw on facts and figures to support a logical and methodical approach. To become adept at this style of influencing, it’s important to feel comfortable handling data, finding information that supports your strategy, and then using it to form a convincing argument.
Information Gathering is the first step. Effective influencers collect two main types of information: background data, which informs their view of the world, and task-related data, which is gathered for a specific purpose. One type alone won’t work!
Once you have the information that you need, the Ladder of Abstraction is a handy tool to help you to weave it all into an appealing argument. This model explains how using tangible facts and hard data alongside more abstract, visionary ideas allows you to communicate more effectively.
Be sure not to deluge people with every possible piece of evidence when you’re trying to be persuasive, or they’ll stop listening. Chunking is an effective technique for grouping and delivering information in a way that ensures people can remember it.
Similarly, you might become overwhelmed by trying to gather enough data to argue your case with. Learn to avoid information overload, and you’ll be both more efficient and more influential.
Beware of collecting data simply to support a case that you intuitively believe in, otherwise you’ll likely introduce bias and lay yourself open to mistrust and embarrassment. Your proposal will more likely stand up to scrutiny if it flows from the data available – and you’ll have nothing to hide!
(Questions 7, 13, 14)
“Calculators” tend to use logic to influence and will likely be good debaters. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that you have to demolish your opponent to win!
This style depends on giving time and effort to in-depth analysis and the creation of a well-structured argument. Skills associated with this approach include: the ability to weigh options, the capacity to provide feedback, and an understanding of when to offer concessions.
Stick to the facts so that you keep your credibility, but remember to contrast your proposal’s benefits with the risks of inaction in a way that your listeners can relate to. Listen to our Expert Interview with Annette Simmons,Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins, to discover more about how you can do this.
(Questions 5, 12, 16)
In contrast, “Motivators” use emotion and the “big picture” to communicate compelling visions of the future. While some people seem to be natural motivators, there are some simple lessons that can teach any of us to influence through motivation.
You can add structure to your enthusiasm, and maximize the impact of any presentation you have to give, by using Monroe’s Motivated Sequence. This five-step plan will help you to gain your audience’s attention, and leave members with specific actions that they can take afterward. This allows your influence to continue beyond the presentation itself.
We might feel that we lack the natural charisma to be a Motivator but it’s a trait that can be developed, so that you’re more engaging, likeable and inspiring. Concentrate on your body language, help others to feel good, and show empathy, assertiveness and confidence.
(Questions 1, 4, 8, 9)
“Collaborators” use motivation, too, but they persuade people by involving them in the decision.
According to Baker’s model, influence by collaboration is about building bonds and developing trust between team members. This helps people to own the process of change for themselves. In these circumstances, your role is to be a facilitator rather than trying to convince team members logically.
To be a collaborator, you’ll likely need: the ability to share power, the capacity to listen actively, and a willingness to communicate openly – see our article on The Johari Window for some ideas about this.
The Cohen-Bradford Influence Model is a tool that can help you to build collaboration. It is based on the law of reciprocity, which says that, if you do a good turn for someone, he or she will return the favor.
The modern workplace is changing, and holding a senior position within an organization no longer automatically means that you can influence your team members. Flatter workforce structures mean that we often have to convince both bosses and colleagues of the merits of our strategy or idea.
This means that we need a range of influencing tactics at our disposal, to ensure that we are comfortable influencing different people at different times and in different situations.
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