Power: everyone’s hungry for it. Influence: a softer way to say it! Clout: power in a political context . . . I’ve thought a lot about this, following last month’s When She Speaks event, on the topic of Politics in the Workplace, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. I kept asking myself what separates those with influence with those who want to have more clout and I realized that confidence is at the heart of influence, power and clout. Those who want more power and influence may really be trying too hard, which has the opposite effect. Those who want more political clout must know themselves, and brand themselves as do-ers who generate results. Below are some suggestions for increasing your power, influence and clout.
Be Comfortable with Who You Are
1. Know and stand by your values.
Authentic leaders have one thing in common: they know who they are and what they value, and their thoughts, words and actions reflect this. People who aren’t comfortable with who they are or where they stand can’t increase their clout.
2. Stop making excuses for your perceived weaknesses.
Make a Stand for Your Decisions
3. Decisive people aren’t always right, but are perceived as more confident.
Thoroughness is a great thing and has its place, but it also can hold you back from taking action, taking the lead, moving forward. People with more clout in general need less data to make a decision, spend less time manage the chaos of not-knowing, and confidently move forward, despite no-knowing many things.
4. Decisive people can also adeptly pivot.
Just because you’re decisive doesn’t mean that you would be locked into a position. In fact, once you get more data after pursuing a specific direction, pivoting to a new direction based on that new information may be the most sensible thing to do. There’s a fine line between waffling and pivoting though. Waffling means going back and forth without a reason, but pivoting means you have a reason for changing a set course.
Speak Clearly and Succinctly and Transparently
5. Speak the language of your intended audience.
Do your research beforehand: know the stakeholders, their motivations and their communication style. Then address them in a way which would resonate for them.
6. Busy and important people will only make time for you if your messages and goals are clear. Cut out the fluff.
More words does not equate to more influence: au contraire! Give yourself a merciless word budget when communicating with others. Get to the point succinctly and directly and logically.
Embrace Your Mistakes and Move On
7. The best leaders strive for best effort, not for perfection.
Be comfortable not being perfect, making mistakes. Your heroes are not flawless, yet they keep moving forward, despite their imperfections, or even because of them.
8. The best leaders own up to their mistakes and learn from them.
Every mistake is a gift, a learning, more information to manage your path forward. But as the old Greek expression goes, don’t trip over the same stone.
Welcome the Right People and Feedback
9. Invite the input of people who don’t think like you.
It’s always easier to communicate with people who share your mindset, but you would stretch yourself and your successes if you connect and communicate with people who aren’t like you.
10. Friends who try to shape you in a different direction are not really your friends.
True friends know and respect your values, your choices, your goals. People who have their own agenda and put in front of yours are to be avoided and confronted. Who has time for THAT?
The bottom line is that influence, power and clout are about confidence: the confidence in knowing who you are, why you do what you do, and communicating it clearly to those that matter.
What will you do to increase your political CLOUT?