FountainBlue’s February 10 When She Speaks meeting was on the topic of Expanding Your Circle of Excellence. Below are notes from the conversation.
We were fortunate to have such influential, well-spoken and diverse leaders on our panel, representing a wide range of companies, roles, backgrounds and cultures. But they shared many thoughts about the power of influence.
- Influence is essential for getting things done at work and at home. Most of the time, we don’t have that direct authority to mandate that someone does something in a certain way by a certain time. And even if we did have that authority, it’s not a great way to lead, to empower, to build trust and loyalty.
- Everybody can have a valid perspective, idea, approach or opinion. But not everybody will voice it so that it gets heard and considered. A leader ensures that a wide range of perspectives are heard, which increases the likelihood of project success and bottom-line results.
- We would all benefit if everyone had the confidence and ability to influence decisions and outcome.
- The first step to having more influence is to choose to do so.
- Listen to the inspiring and practical stories of influential people around you, for it will also help you become more influential and feel more empowered.
Their collective advice for expanding your circle of influence is summarized below.
- Know and accept your talents and weaknesses. Leverage your strengths and work on your shortcomings so that you can become more influential.
- Everybody has their own style of influencing others.
- Build deep and trusted relationships at all levels, whether or not you need something done right away.
- Understand the motivations and perspectives of those with whom you work. It’s much easier to find that common ground when you’ve done this first.
- Make everyone around you look good, feel good for the role they played in each project.
- Be open to the perspectives of other people, especially when she/he don’t think like you.
- Communicate in a way that the other party can understand.
- Create a common ground, a common understanding, a shared goal, a shared future . . . something where you and other parties can collaborate in influencing an outcome.
- Point to the data, the measured results which back up a perspective or strategy. This helps keep conversations around the plans and strategy, rather than on politics and games.
- Welcome the gift of feedback, especially when it makes you feel uncomfortable. The best feedback helps you overcome the obstacles you’re putting in front of yourself. Choosing to overcome these obstacles will help you raise the bar for yourself.
- Be a role model for courageously stepping up, out of your comfort zone. Seek a role model who would help you to do the same.
- The fear-of-the-no and the fear-of-failure stop many from even asking and trying.
- The lack-of-an-expressed-wish means many don’t “cash-out” on the goodwill and positive intent due to them.
- Create and support an ecosystem of support within and outside your companies, and enlist that sponsorship and commitment from the top.
- Be patient and resilient. Take a ‘no’ as a ‘not-now’, a failure as a learning opportunity, a building block for success.
- Facilitate a culture of empowerment, a place where people are encouraged to speak up and contribute, to embrace diversity approaches and mind-sets, with alignment in thoughts, words and actions.
- There’s a difference between diversity (when you’re invited to the party) and inclusion (when you’re invited to dance). Move beyond thoughts and words and into actions and projects, to truly integrate diverse people and perspectives into outcomes.
- Connect with people who can help you influence outcomes. Executive sponsors, mentors, champions, advocates, partners, etc., are all part of ecosystems of stakeholders you can create and manage.
The bottom line is that influencing is about partnerships and collaboration, about working together toward a common goal, about creating a win-win which benefits all.
Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at ASML and our panelists!
Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO FountainBlue, CMO SignKloud
Panelist Tonie Hansen, Senior Director, Corporate Responsibility, NVIDIA
Panelist Vijaya Kaza, SVP Engineering, FireEye
Panelist Ishita Majumdar, Senior Director of Products, eBay
Panelist Birte Schwarzenfeld, VP, Head of Corporate Strategy, Flex
Panelist Eileen Sullivan, Vice President Project Management Governance, UXC Eclipse