If you want to be successful, Harvey Golub, the former CEO of American Express, always said, you need the skills of influence management. Whether you are a manager or not, influence management is always front and center--a basic competency everyone needs.
Influence is simply the power to get your work done in an organization. Nobody has the formal authority to achieve what is necesssary, not even with those who report to them. It's an illusion that once upon a time managers could make their direct reports do whatever was needed. Managers have never had that much authority. Organizational life is far too complicated for that.
Influence is about the great American value of reciprocity. We Americans, unlike some other cultures, inherently believe that "if you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours." Think about it as banking. I can't withdraw, unless I've made a deposit. One of my client firms talks about influence as the company candy dish. You can't take candy out of the dish, unless you've put some in. Influencing people is based upon deposits that I've made that some others want.
So think about influence as a form of exchange. Exchange is actually the basis for all forms of influence, whether persuasion, pleading, appeal or ingratiation. You can't really demand in today's world. No tactic will succeed if the other person doesn't perceive benefit of some kind. . . a payment in currency he or she values.
The concept of influence management is easy. . . the process is complicated.
To build the the social capital for your future, you've got to pay attention to the relationship and figure out the currencies. And you've got to figure out your own goals and priorities.
So there are just three big issues underlying influence management:
- What do "they" want that you can give them?
- What do you want? What are your own goals and priorities?
- What are the resources you have to offer them to give you what you want?
How do you manage the big three? Got some tips for the rest of us?