By Selena Rezvani
This article was originally published on September 13, 2022 in Quick Confidence, Selena Rezvani’s weekly LinkedIn newsletter.
When you hear the words “organizational influence”, what do they conjure up for you? Does your mind go to office politics? Shadowy control? Or jockeying for a certain position?
Well, I’m here to tell you that when you harness organizational influence for good, it can bring about positive changes, increase your own engagement, and improve your work experience. And best of all? These benefits cascade to make things better for others, too!
Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?
You see, when we use influence to affect change vs. using intimidation to force compliance, we help shape the behavior and mindset of others naturally. That’s because people are able to come to their own conclusions based on your message, actions, and intentions.
Being an organizational influencer isn’t about giving orders (or taking and posting selfies!), it’s about empathizing with teams, leaders, and audiences, and being able to tailor your plans to them. That way, you enlist them in your efforts and multiply your impact so you can accomplish big things – together.
Think about it: with major workplace movements like diversity, equity and inclusion, employee wellness, and even workplace safety measures, policies and standards alone weren’t enough to guide people’s actions.
Why? People need buy-in to get excited about an idea and put their own beliefs behind it.
And how do you generate buy-in? By being an epic organizational influencer!
If you take time to strategically engage others in your plans, you get that much closer to affecting real change … you’ll also build your own confidence and deepen you relationships within your organization’s teams at the same time
Quick Confidence Tips to Become an Epic Influencer:
Be in consultation with others and solicit their input. It might sound simple, but one of the quickest ways to create supporters and fans is to involve them in your plans! I’m not talking about a passive “open door policy,” I mean creating forums, 1:1 meetings or interviews, roundtable discussions, learning opportunities and meetings where you ask for input, suggestions, and help from others.
So if, for example, you were lobbying to add a new parental benefit to your company’s plan and you wanted to ensure the addition was relevant and embraced by your organization, you could involve the very people whom that change would affect in the effort. That shows that you care about how it will affect others, plus builds your knowledge about what concerns people. It also gives you the opportunity to change course if your plans are off.
Promote your goals across appropriate information hubs. We all need relevant information to succeed and influence in our roles. So, consider where the most pertinent, usable information resides in your organization. If you’re trying to engage people to be part of your university recruiting effort for example, you might consider informal information hubs like a Slack channel or an internal messaging system.
Then there are appeals that are a little more formal – so asking HR to include a note about your program in their quarterly update or posting the opportunity on your intranet may be more suitable. If the work culture is more social in nature then a lunch gathering to discuss new programs may work best. Ensuring everyone knows where key information hubs reside and using the best one for your purposes helps you be strategic about making your cause visible and accessible!
Think of yourself as a coalition-builder. Instead of influencing people about a single project or one-off initiative, try taking a coalition-building approach. Here, you are soliciting many supporters, at scale, to create a kind of positive sea change – one that is usually impossible if only one or two people attempted it.
For example, if you notice that long, unhealthy hours are the norm at your company and you want to promote more wellness, you would want to build a coalition. In this scenario you’ll want to create a sense of urgency in the organization to gain cooperation. For example, you could host a town hall discussion showing how overwork negatively affects people and presenting the tangible positive advantages of doing things a different way. You can reinforce these actions by having a known authority or popular endorser within your organization who supports your cause.
If you take the time to strategically engage others in your plans, you get that much closer to affecting real change. And not only that: you’ll also build your own confidence and deepen your relationships within your organization’s teams at the same time!
That’s how you use organizational influence to develop a loyal team of advocates who support you in making changes at work that actually last.
Want to learn more about developing influence? Check out Selena’s ExecOnline experience collection, Foundations for Personal and Organizational Leadership. These on-demand leadership development experiences are designed to help professionals find out how to identify critical stakeholders and influencers within their organization; develop influence “currency” by capitalizing on key opportunities; strategically influence others to support them and their team; and cultivate awareness of barriers to developing influence and overcoming them!
About the Author
Selena Rezvani is an award-winning author of two books and an expert on leadership and self-advocacy for women and other under-represented groups. She is an ExecOnline Expert, teaching leadership development experiences on how to develop influence and build organizational currency.
Selena is a recognized author, speaker, and consultant on leadership. Her debut book, The Next Generation of Women Leaders: What You Need to Lead but Won’t Learn in Business School (Praeger, 2009), identifies the need for Generation X and millennial women to be seen as a viable talent pool and leadership pipeline. Her second book, Pushback: How Smart Women Ask — and Stand Up — for What They Want (Jossey-Bass, 2012), focuses on the unmatched power of negotiation skills in women’s career advancement, and was recognized with an Axiom Business Book Award.
Her experience and success in the women and leadership arena make Rezvani a frequent resource for news media and an in-demand business speaker. She has been quoted, interviewed, and profiled by CareerBuilder, The Wall Street Journal, Oprah.com, The LA Times, Marie Claire, NBC television, and ABC television.