In this audio, Dr Dave Fleming explores three strategies you can use to increase your superpower of influence.


Full transcript below.


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This is Dave Fleming at The Ingenuity Lab.

Try a little experiment for me. Think about the last seven days of work.
Get your work in your mind what you do, your mission, the people you work with the challenges you face.
The way your day sort of ebbs and flows through the various responsibilities you have the challenges, the obstacles, the constraints, all of it. Think about the last seven days and think about a few moments where you feel it sort of all came together,
that people seem to be with you on the page that was necessary for the mission to go forward. Whatever that is for you.
You were aligned, you were effective. The people around you seemed with you. There was a cohesiveness to how you were working together.

Can you think of a couple of situations?

Just try to replay those? What made those situations effective? Now, I’m not just saying what made them go the way you wanted them to go. But what made them effective, not only for you, but for the other people who were involved. What made them effective. And at some point, my guess is, you’ll start to say things like, well, there seemed to be alignment around what we needed to do. People had a certain kind of attitude that made it easier to work together.

There was clarity around what needed to be done. People were engaged in the work, and they were doing their part. and on we go right there was like a team environment that really made it possible. Maybe this also translates to things like engagement in the work energy for the work.

These moments where we’re effective, not only individually, but with other people are really coveted. Because sometimes it can feel like there are a lot of moments during the day that are full of Challenge Challenge that doesn’t feel effective.
And now how can we get more of those effective moments. By the way, it doesn’t mean that those effective moments aren’t also full of challenge. But there is something quite magical, when people come together around a common mission. And they’re able to engage that with their skills with their gifts to accomplish what needs to be done. I mean, who doesn’t want more of that.
Now, as a leader, you have an ability to bring more of those moments to you more of those effective moments, you can’t control everything, you can’t control anybody really heck, I have a hard time controlling myself sometimes.

But we can help to shift and shape moments, so that more of them are effective, more of them lead to the outcomes that are necessary. Again, not just the outcomes that we personally want, but the outcomes that are needed for the work for the mission for the priority at hand.

You and I as leaders can help to shape more of those moments. And it comes through a superpower that we have a power that goes under utilized often during the day simply because we’re not mindful that that power is always hovering nearby, if we’re willing to deliberately use it. To use it may mean to change some of our behaviors, some of our approach some of the ways we engage people. But if we use this superpower, we can make a difference in how many of those moments lead to effective outcomes. What is this superpower? It’s the superpower of influence.

Your ability to influence particularly when you don’t feel you have full control or power in a situation, which by the way is all the time. Even if you’re a formal leader, you know that your formal power runs out pretty fast. And now it’s about influencing people toward important outcomes, priorities, things that need to be done.

How can you influence people in ways that bring about more effective outcomes. So here’s what I’d like you to do, as I move you through just a few behaviors that are critical to influence, I’d like you to think about a situation or two, where you want to influence more, maybe you’re struggling with a particular group of people or a particular person, and you really need to influence them, or there’s a particular project you’re on, and something is languishing on the project or in the work, and you need to influence people to move more toward a unified approach, a unified alignment around what needs to be done, I don’t know what the challenge is. But think of something in your leadership, with people with projects with the work itself, that you are not feeling you’re influencing toward effective outcomes, and you’d like to have greater influence. Keep that in mind, as we talk about how to increase and use influence in everyday work. Okay, here we go.

The first concept I want to share with you to increase your influence is what I call the ladder of influence. And it’s got three steps to it. At the very top, the top step, we’ll call reputation. And we all know what this is right? Your reputation is what precedes you, your reputation is that which people think about when they think about you, regardless of you whether you’re in the room or not. So how people think about us think about our work, think about our personality, our attitudes, the way we present ourselves, the way we let me say it this way, show up matters a lot. It matters a lot, it’s at that top step of influence is reputation. Because reputation is what people will have in their minds about you before you even say anything to them.

So what do you want people to think about you before you speak? What do you want people to think about you when they’re talking about you? And you’re not there? I’ve been in many situations where leaders are sitting around a table, and they’re thinking about who they can put on a particular project. And it’ll go something like this. How about Dave? Who? No, no, no, no, no, no, not Dave. I mean, you know, how Dave is. That’s reputation. It’s how people view me before I’m even in the room to defend myself. Now, where does reputation come from? It comes from character, character, our patterns of behaviors, this is the step below reputation, character, character are patterns of behavior that I repeat regularly enough that people see them as ways I relate in certain circumstances. Oh, yeah, there goes Dave, again, he always does that, doesn’t he? Anytime you challenge me just kind of flies off the handle, that would be a character trait.

So the top ladder, rung on the ladder is reputation. The second is character patterns of behaving. The bottom ladder rung is micro behaviors in any given moment. So I’m in a meeting, someone says something, I sort of slide my chair back, cross my arms, firm my brow and say, I really can’t believe this, how many times are we going to talk about this. That’s just a little behavior. Now, if I do that once a year, that is not going to make it up to the second rung of character. But if I do it, two or three times a week, or two or three or four times a month, when I’m in a certain moment with people, that’s going to start to be a pattern and patterns that are recognized over time, get to the third run reputation. So the first thing you have to do if you want to increase your reputation, your influence is say, What do I think my reputation is? How am I viewed in the world of work as a leader?
And what if I want to change something about my reputation?

What I have to change about my character about the pattern of behavior, and if I isolate something like I get angry too fast in meetings, when things don’t go my way, where am I really going to make that change, I’m going to have to go back to the micro moment of behavior, where I most frequently demonstrate that behavior. And that’s where I’m going to need to make the shift. And this takes work, I have to learn new ways of acting, I guess I want to say this to you. The first place to look, if you want to increase your influence is your own behavior. The first place to look is your own behavior.

So here’s a real simple thing you can do.

First, isolate something, you think in your character that’s getting in the way of your reputation.
It’s getting in the way of how people view you. I don’t know what it is, it could be again, you, you get overly aggressive to quickly or it could be just the opposite. You just kind of clam up and don’t say anything, or you change the subject, or you get fearful in situations and you just want to get out of them. Or, or or or I don’t know what it might be. But you do. And if you don’t, you can ask a trusted friend. Hey, what do I do that when I do it really doesn’t work for being a leader in my context? What kind of attitude or action do I do that really gets in the way of me having more influence, you could ask somebody that you trust, to give you feedback on that, then it would be a matter of isolating out that behavior, and learning to shift it with a different behavior in the moment of truth. Right. So again, let’s just stay with the example. Instead of getting angry, I’m going to learn to pay attention to what happens to me physically, what happens to the tone of my voice, what happens to me, physiologically, emotionally, when I’m starting to ramp up, and I’m going to try to insert first of all, I’m just going to try to see that I do it, then I’m going to try to move away from it, then I’m going to try to replace it with a better behavior.

Now, that all took me about 10 seconds to say. But it usually takes a little longer than that, to perform those steps to see it, to avoid it and to replace it. But that’s so critical for influence. Because if there are behaviors that are in the way that need to re be replaced, then that’s the first point of contact to grow. My influence is to shift my behavior to something that increases my influence increases people’s desire to have me at the table, or to listen to my voice, or to hear my thinking.

What’s a behavior? You believe that if you changed, it would make it more likely that people would be more Invitational to you?
And would listen to you and would consider your view? Or if you need to move people to action would move with you with less obstacle, if you changed? What’s that behavior that if you changed, people would be more with you, as you move through work together.

Here’s a second strategy to increase your influence. Learn to take multiple perspectives. Learn to take multiple perspectives. What do I mean by this?

If you want to influence people, one of the most important things you can do is trying to put yourself in their perspective.
When you come to them, let’s say you need to ask them to do something that’s going to be hard.
Before you ask them, think about what this request might feel like to them. What might be their perspective, what might be going on for them. When you show up with say a request or maybe even in some leadership moments. It’s a requirement. You know, they really have to do it as part of the work. It still matters that you take the perspective of the person, what might they be feeling right now, maybe they’ve been working all day, maybe it’s been a rough week, maybe they’re in a high stress job, maybe you know something about their personal life, whatever it might be, maybe, you know, they really like change, maybe, you know, they really struggle with change, I don’t know what the situation of empathy or perspective taking is that you need to take.

Because you know, your situation, I don’t, but here’s what I do know, how I am able to view and take the perspective of another person will shift how I talk to them in the moment of influence, I might change my tone, I might use certain words, I might avoid certain words, because I know that they’ll hear certain words, and they’ll go down a road, I don’t want them to go, whereas someone else might not. So I’m going to take the perspective of the people who I’m trying to influence in psychology and in neuroscience, this is called theory of mind that I’m able to have a sense of what might be going on in someone else’s mind. Now, now, that doesn’t mean we know that we can’t read their mind, we don’t know. But by trying to take another person’s perspective, it’s like, it’s more likely that we will approach them and speak to them and try to influence them in ways that work for them. Not just ways that work for us.

I remember working and coaching a physician who didn’t have great bedside manner. And I was asked to just round with him, and see if I might be able to help him connect better to patients and their families. And so I watched and observed him go through several roundings. And then I suggested a few things. And one of the things I said to him was, you know, when you go in to a room, try and see something in the room that might clue you in to something that’s important to the family or to the patient.
And so I said, I’m going to try it in the next room, you watch me so we went in, and I noticed that the a couple family members were there with the patient. And they had put a blanket over her that said, Ohio State. And so when we walked in, I said, Go Blue, of course meaning Go Michigan, right? And they groaned and looked at me like what are you doing in here, I can’t believe you would say that. And we all laughed, and we made a connection, I saw something that I knew would help connect me to something important to them.

And the doctor saw this, and then he started talking about, you know, a couple of his family members lived near Ohio State, and they’re huge fans. And he started to connect with them. And then when he went in to talk about what was going to happen during the day, from a medical standpoint, he had much more connection to them simply because we had taken the perspective of the other. Now you might think, well, that’s kind of a not a small, I mean, it’s sort of a small thing, it’s not a big deal. And often those little influence tactics are small. They don’t have to be big, they have to be precise interest in the other. This is why trying to take the perspective of another person is so critical to influence. What might they be thinking? What might my request or my words do to them? How could it cause them to feel threatened? What could I do to lower the threat level if I think it’s gonna be threat threatening? What could I do to increase the excitement level or the camaraderie? In my words? What can I do to help them see this in a more powerful way that gets them to engage their energy, that’s part of influence.

That means thinking about the person I’m trying to influence not just telling them what I want. Okay, so let’s just review where we are. Number one, if you want to increase your influence, think ladder of influence. Small behavioral changes, lead to shifts in my character shifts in my character lead to shifts in my reputation. Reputation is so critical core critical to influence how people view us has a lot to do with the level of influence we have. And we may have an expertise that grants us a certain kind of influence, sort of preferentially, but that won’t last. That won’t last. If I’m a jerk and an expert, the jerk is going to win out and my influence is going to go down.

Number two, take the perspectives of the people you want to influence, what might be the they thinking, what are their issues? What emotional responses might they have? How should I approach this with them? Are there words I should avoid words I should use? How can I bring them in in a way that engages them, rather than just tells them what to do. And then finally, number three, when you want to influence other people, get them to think with you about the needed solution, or about what needs to occur, or about what has to change, or whatever, whatever it is that you’re trying to influence, try to make it conversational, not directive only, you’re not just there to give a command.

Influence is a relationship. Influence is a conversation.

Frankly, it’s a conversation number one, because we don’t have all the best ideas. And so when we’re up against something or trying to make a change, we need the viewpoints of other people, we need the the genius of other people to help us solve, we need the ways that other people can see things that come at it from different angles, rather than just from our own. This is not about influence is not about getting everyone to see how you see, to do what you do. Influence is about rallying people around effective execution of the mission or the priority. We if you think that influence or if I think that influence is just about getting people to do what I want them to do. That’s not influence.

That’s just a kind of selfish agenda. Now, there might be some times where the mission and what I think are the same, okay, that’s fine. But remember, this isn’t about getting your way. It’s about getting to an effective execution of the mission, or the priority at hand. And so if that’s really what we want, then we’re going to have to engage in conversations that draw out the thinking of other people. And here’s the one of the best ways to do that. Ask really potent questions. Ask questions that draw out the thinking of the other person, and then or people and then have a conversation about that. And you can share more of your ideas, and they can share more of their there’s, you can ask him, Why do you see it that way? What about, you know, when I think about this, what, what about that? Or how would you overcome this, if we did it that way? Engaging in real dialogue, engaging in real conversation, is the way to increase your influence.

If you think about it, the people who probably have the most influence over you are not the people who just bark out commands at you. They’re the people who have engaged you in a relationship where they really want to know what you think. And they really value what they you think and they want you are part of the solution. So if you want to increase your influence, draw other people in and increase their influence. When you invite other people into the circle, and they are able to share their influence. That’s another way you increase your own. So ask a lot of questions. Be inquisitive, be curious. If you’re giving more directives than you are asking questions, then you’re likely not to increase your influence. Now if you’re in a situation where you have to give a directive, that’s different. But if you’re trying to rally people around something that they don’t have to do just because you tell them to but you want to increase their engagement in something, and you want them to move with you and not be an obstacle to a situation, engage them in the process of the solution.

So that they’re part of, rather than simply your tool that’s so critical to increasing your influence. So think about these three areas. How’s your ladder of influence? Small behaviors, small micro behaviors that lead to your character that lead to your reputation, that directly affect your influence? How’s that going? Are there behaviors at the micro level that you want to shift so that your character shifts so that your reputation shifts so that you are more approachable and accessible? And people want to hear what you have to say, and think and want you to be a part of their influence?

Number two, are you taking the perspective of the other? When you have to talk to them? Are you taking their perspective? Are you trying to shape how you’re going to be based on what you know about the person or the people you’re talking to? And number three, are you drawing them in? So it’s not enough just to take their perspective, but now I want to draw them in? I want to be curious, I want to ask questions, I want to bring them into the circle of influence. So we solve together, we seize opportunities together, we’re better together. Think about all three of these influence strategies, a ladder of influence, the ability to take the perspective of other people, and the ability to draw people into the circle and have them become part of where can you grow in each of these strategies? How can you make more of an deliberate attempt to increase each of those strategies in a way that really draws people towards you? And you have more of the moments you thought of at the beginning of this audio effective outcomes that drive the mission or the priority at hand? That’s what I wish for you in your influence.

This is Dave Fleming at The Ingenuity Lab.