Expanding Your Circle of Influence, With or Without Direct Authority

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FebPanelFountainBlue’s February 20 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Expanding Your Circle of Influence, With or Without Direct Authority. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a wide range of panelists to cover our influence topic, representing an educational and operational background in engineering, marketing, program management, business development, and alliances. They’ve worked in companies large and small, and with execs at all levels, including the executive suites, and across all industries, geographies and roles. Our panelists generously shared their advice on expanding influence.

Relationships Matter

  • Build deep and meaningful relationships with people who matter. Understand their motivations and communicate clearly and transparently, working toward a common objective.
  • Be authentic in your communication and caring in your outlook.

Communication is Paramount

  • Be passionate in your thinking, communication and actions in order to engage others to do the same.
  • Ask the right questions to make sure that you understand the needs and motivations of your stakeholders.
  • Communication is more about listening than it is about speaking.
  • Ask for the support you need to succeed.
  • Using ‘I’ language is less threatening.

Be Strategic

  • Regardless of where you sit at the table, what your role and title are, what your responsibility is, etc., make a difference with what you think, say and do.
  • Do your research to understand the people, the dynamics, the company, etc., in order to best understand which measurable results would most matter to customers.
  • Pre-meetings before the actual meetings may help you better manage an outcome.

Focus on Delivering Results

  • Communicate clearly in writing and enlist the buy-in, focused on delivering specific results.
  • Put the needs of the team above your own needs in your thoughts, words and actions.

Manage Your Emotions

  • Manage your emotions so maintain the respect of others, especially when stakes are high. Try rolling your tongue at the back of your teeth if you feel tears, or curling your toes and standing taller.
  • Separate yourself from the situation and try to understand the feelings and motivations of others.
  • Remember that what’s more important than being right is the good of the team, and the results delivered by the team.
  • Sometimes when emotions run high, the best move is to let it go and carry on.

Be Other-Centric

  • The needs of the customer are paramount. Deliver to those needs and keep them happy.
  • Speak the language of your partners – in messages and communications they can understand and respect.
  • Wield Your Influence with Care. If you get things done you will get noticed and will likely influence others without your awareness.

A suggested multi-step process for influencing an outcome:

1) assess the situation – what’s the influencing style? analyst, driver, collaborator, etc.

2) remove the barriers – territory, language, biases

3) making the pitch – problem, causes, recommendation/actions, benefits (PCAN – credit Wharton)

4) getting the commitment – in writing, with an accountability element and peer/social pressure


Please join us in thanking our hosts at EMC and our panelists for FountainBlue’s February 20 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Expanding Your Circle of Influence, With or Without Direct Authority:

  • Facilitator Lucie Newcomb, NewComm Global
  • Panelist Ellen Butler, Director, CxO Thought Leadership & Content, VMware
  • Panelist Minoo Gupta, Senior Director of Engineering, CITRIX
  • Panelist Maria Schaffer, former Cisco
  • Panelist Jennifer Stephenson, Software Product Manager, Altera
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