Whether you work with two people or 2,000 people, influence is a key leadership skill. Some might even say influence is synonymous with leadership. In this episode, Akua helps you recognize the importance of leveraging your influence and the role of self-reflection and communication in the process.
This episode is for you if you're a first-time manager, an established leader, or just feeling invisible in your current work environment.
Listen as Akua dives into the four pillars of influence: power, emotions, acumen, and non-verbal signals/visuals. You'll learn about each and identify one pillar you may want to improve upon to take your leadership skills to the next level.
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What's Covered in this Episode About Leadership Empathy
- Akua talks about the ways to increase your power, including being able to adapt, empathize, and be open to listening.
- Learn the difference between the power approach and the influence approach and why good leaders know when to use which.
- Strong leadership requires empathy; one way to practice is to cultivate your own self-awareness.
- To wield influence, one must be able to apply skills and knowledge effectively and in the right way, i.e., acumen.
- Realize you are always communicating, even if you're not talking.
Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations
Mentioned in Leadership is Influence
Get to Know the Host of the Open Door Conversations Podcast
Learn more about your host, Akua Nyame-Mensah.
Akua is a certified executive and leadership coach, recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker, and former startup executive.
Since 2018, she has had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from high-growth startups to multinational brands all around the world, to maximize people, performance, and profit. Outside of her coaching and corporate speaking engagements, she is a regular mentor, coach, and judge for various entrepreneurship-focused organizations.
Stay in touch with Akua Nyame-Mensah, Leadership & Culture Advisor:
Here’s the transcript for episode 79 about Influence in Leadership
NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 00:00 How would it feel to be able to lead, manage and engage without any apparent exertion force or feeling like you have to command everyone around? It probably feel pretty good, right? And that's exactly what we'll be discussing today the importance of influence and leadership. Hello, and welcome to the open door conversations podcast. My name is a Korea yami Mensa I also respond to Aqua and Akua. I'm a certified executive and leadership coach recognised learning and organisational development facilitator, speaker and former startup executive. And I am so excited because this year I'm celebrating five years of working for myself five years of supporting leaders. And I am so grateful because I've had the opportunity to partner with amazing organisations, from hydro startups to multinational brands all around the world. In 2022. Alone, I serve over 600 Yes, over 600 leaders around the world. And in this podcast, you will have the opportunity to learn my three step leadership framework. I actually break it down in Episode 71. I use this framework with my high achieving and entrepreneurial minded clients that are juggling a million responsibilities so they can easily build wealth. This three step framework is going to teach you how to leverage your innate personality to learn how to prioritise and maximise not just your time, but also your money. You don't have to work harder or turn into someone else. To get more gotten. Let's tune into this week's episode. Hello, and welcome to this week's open door conversations podcast episode. I've alluded to this episode recently. And as we continue our journey to cultivate our awareness, I thought it was an important topic to cover I've been talking about influence a lot these days, I've been talking about influence as part of a leadership programme that I'm doing with leaders for this large multinational organisation. I've also been talking about influence within this leadership communication programme that I'm putting together for a small team influence is incredibly important. It doesn't matter if you work with two people or 2000 influence is a key leadership skill. Some might even say that leadership is influence, whatever you believe understanding influence can have a massive impact on your ability to engage and set expectations for others. And that's what leadership is about, right? So if you find yourself saying or thinking, Hey, I've been getting a lot of pushback on everything from this team I inherited, or I'm going from my current leadership role to this new leadership role that's more regional and I need allies for I love my work. But it's been so hard to get people to move forward. And now that I'm a first time manager, it's so important to get people on board to my ideas. If you've been saying this to yourself, or maybe even saying, Hey, I feel incredibly invisible within this organisation, this episode is for you, right? Because all these situations start with reflecting on your leadership presence and reflecting on your ability to influence. Let's start with the definition. So this is from the Merriam Webster dictionary. And influence is defined as the act or power of producing an effect without any apparent exertion or force or direct exercise of command. All right, and I think the key here is that there's an ease, there's an efficiency, right, there's an impact that happens without any negative recourse. There's many different ways that I can break down influence, but I'm partial to talking about influence with four main components. I will link the resources in the shownotes the resources that this approach is based on and it has these four pillars. The first pillar is power. So we're gonna talk a bit about power and the difference between power and influence. In this episode, we're then going to talk about emotions and emotions are key. If you've been listening to my podcast for any length of time, you know that I constantly repeat that none of us are logical beings. We like to believe we are but ultimately it's about tapping into emotions, and having people feel a certain way. The third thing is talking about acumen not just expertise. If you do some research on influence, one of the things that will come up is the importance of expertise. And I do think expertise is important. But acumen might be a better description of how you need to come across because it's is not just about having expertise, but about being able to make decisions at the right time at the right place with the information that you have. And so just knowing something is not good enough, it's about your ability to adapt and apply, right. And that's what acumen is all about. And we'll talk a bit more about that as we get into the episode. And then of course, the last pillar or the last element, or the last component is non verbal signals, and visuals. And anyone who knows how to influence anyone who really knows what it takes to be a leader really understands that it's not just about what you say, but how you say it, and how you show up. All right, so I'm going to break down each of these pillars really quickly. As I mentioned before, I'll link and leave some additional resources in the show notes. If you want to follow up if you want to read some more. As always, this is not going to be more than 30 minutes, because I know that you have things to do. And so I'll be sharing just the essential elements of influence. So let's get into the first one. So how can you become more influential, I already shared the four components. And so the first that we're going to tap into that we're going to think a little bit more about is power. And so the definition of power I have here, I think is a really good definition as it relates to thinking about leadership. And that is power is the ability to impose your will or make others act in a way you want based on your authority. So you can go out there find other definitions of it, the long and short of it is that your power determines your range of acceptable behaviour, if you have lots of power, you can get away with a lot, I'd love to pause here and have you reflect on that is there someone you know, within your organisation or even within your life that you know can get away with a lot, that means that they have a lot of power, whether or not they have the title, okay. And if you have little power, typically your range of acceptable behaviour is a lot less, it's more narrow. And that's important to keep in mind. Because as you are engaging with others and reflecting on others, it might be important for you to reflect on how you can increase your power. And a great way to increase your power is actually to show right that you are in line with or what you want done is in line with others, right. And as you communicate, and as you think about connecting with others and trying to bring others along or leading others, it's important to communicate how others will benefit from what you want them to focus on, right. And so one way to increase your power is to find out how others will benefit and to focus on that to really focus on that Win Win opportunity. Another thing you can do, to increase your power is to be open to suggestions be open to adapting. But it's really about gaining allies and empathising, right. And so these are things that you can do to increase your power, these are things that you can do to bring people along. But the key here, right, and to make sure we're distinguishing this from influence is that you're sort of imposing your will on others based on your authority. So you can increase your power base by showing that you're willing, right to engage, you're willing to listen to others. And so if you're thinking about how you can distinguish between power and influence, it's really about the types of resources you're tapping into. So here's a quick case study. And I actually will share the link to the resource, I actually found this case study, it's super simple. And I think this is something that's really going to resonate with you. If you want to read more case studies on sort of the difference between influence and power, I recommend you do that. I will link it in the show notes. But this really quick case study is Hey, someone on your team hasn't been performing as well in the past few weeks. What do you do? What do you do? Pause this, reflect on it, write down your thoughts. So if you were to take it from more of a power approach, right, you maybe will meet with them one on one, and tell them that, hey, you have to get this done. Or I'm going to do X, Y, and Z. So there's going to be a consequence, I'm going to write and I don't know an improvement plan related to your performance, I'm going to write an official letter to HR, that's what you might do if it's going to be a power move, right? If you're going to leverage power, because in this case, what you're doing is leveraging your authority and imposing your authority on them, showing them that there's going to be consequences if they don't get better. Or if they don't shape up the influence approach might be instead of telling them hey, like I'm going to write you up or hey, there's going to be this consequence. It's really about engaging with them to show that hey, I can support you. Everybody wants to support you. How can we support you better? How can we make sure that you are successful, so it involves you engaging a little bit more and empathising with them a little bit more. And so a key leadership skill is recognising when should you be more influential? And when do you maybe need to actually swing the hammer? Right? When do you need to actually leverage that power piece? So that's really that first component of being more influential, understanding your power, understanding how to increase your power, which typically involves getting more allies trying to empathise, and using that to be able to move forward, right? So when do you need to use power and when do you need to be more influential is really that first key component of thinking about influence. The second pillar of influence is leveraging emotion. And so what I wanted to do here was actually really think about and really share what is the difference between an emotion and feeling, because ultimately, what you want to do is make others feel a certain way. And so a feeling is an emotional state or reaction that is more conscious, it's more specific than an emotion. So an emotion is a complex experience of consciousness, bodily sensation, and behaviour that reflects the personal significance of a thing and event or situation feelings, as I mentioned before, is more specific. And so you might experience anger as an emotion, but have the feelings of aggression, revenge, fulness, or resentfulness. Right. So it tends to be a little bit more specific. And as I mentioned before, we need emotional buy in and as a leader, one of the things you need to learn if you want to be influential is how to actually impact other people's emotions. So they feel certain things. And as I mentioned before, and as I talk about a lot on my podcast, we are emotional beings, we are not logical beings. And what we tend to do is back up our emotions with logic and data a lot of times, so how do we get better at emotions and feelings, the first thing to do is to actually practice empathy and become more empathetic. And that's your ability to understand and share the feelings of others. And so a great way to be able to be more empathetic is actually to constantly cultivate your own self awareness and get a lot clearer on the things you're feeling and get better at expressing the things that you're feeling as well, it's going to make it a lot easier for you to be able to put yourself in other people's shoes, and communicate that to others as well, it's going to make it a lot easier for you also to be vulnerable, and to create space for members of your team to do that as well. So that's something that you can consider when you are thinking about this particular pillar, this particular component of influence, which is emotion, other ways to really get better at being more connected to your emotion and thinking about the emotions that you want other people to experience includes getting better at listening, right, so not just listening to problem solve, but really listening to understand and listening to really try to get a better understanding of what other people are feeling or the other emotions that they're experiencing. Asking open ended questions can also help you emotionally connect with others and having emotional flexibility. So really being able to tap into different ways of expressing the same thing. But maybe using logic and facts or using metaphors, or really trying to tap into someone's spirit and what will resonate with them at the heart level, all of these different things will allow you to connect with others in an emotional way. And that's also going to allow you to be more influential, and really allow you to have that intended impact that you want as a leader and to bring others along. So really just recognising that cultivating your awareness around how you're coming across. And being intentional about how you want to come across to others and how you want other people to feel can allow you to be a lot more influential, and really relate to that second pillar of being influential, which is emotion. The third pillar that I wanted to cover in this podcast episode is acumen and not just expertise. So here's a quick definition acumen is quickness, accuracy and keenness of judgement or insight. So the key here is that acumen is really about discernment and application, which is different from expertise because expertise is simply just having expert knowledge or expert ability within a specific skill or field. So the idea here is you want to be able to relevantly apply topics, issues, challenges, right? You want to be that go to person or be seen as that go to person or a thought leader. That's what's going to make you influential, not just having the skill, not just having the knowledge but being able to apply it effectively. The and in the right way. And so as we reflect on acumen, right not just expertise, I think a huge part of really being able to show up and show you have acumen is being able to start with the end in mind. And that's really about being strategic with how you communicate with others, and being strategic with how you communicate about what you need from them, and what it's going to take in order for whatever's happening to be successful. So really reflect on how much time you spend on communicating goals and plans. And this can really shift how members of your team respond, react and really show up right, I have this really interesting statistic here that I wanted to share as it relates to this particular pillar. And that is less than 6% of organisations communicate goals with employees daily, only 23% of CEOs state their organisations are effective at connecting employee goals with corporate objectives. And I believe that a conscious leader, a leader, that has acumen is able to do that really effectively, they're really able to tap into, hey, if these are things that are important to you, you're going to be able to have that impact, or really create that here within this organisation, they're able to match that and communicate that to their employees, effectively, constantly and all the time, right, because influential leaders are able to make that connection, and they're communicating that all the time to their employees. So that's really the third pillar that leaders need to keep in mind if they want to be influential. And a part of having that acumen is starting with the end in mind and being very strategic. The last pillar that I wanted to cover, and this week's podcast episode is that pillar number four, and that is talking about nonverbal signals and visuals, whether or not you open your mouth, you are communicating, right? Body language is huge. And whether or not we want to admit it to ourselves, just the way we show up physically is going to have an impact on how people perceive us and the words that come out of our mouth. As I mentioned in our previous episode about communication, it's something that we do naturally as human beings, because we are biassed. And so taking some time to really reflect on what are some of the ways in which you show up physically is going to allow you to be more influential. So most of our communicating really comes from our body language, our facial expressions, how we use our hands. And the reason why this is so important is because it helps people have a better understanding of the overall situation. And so we need to reflect on these things. It's not easy to do, but it's something we need to create time to reflect on. Because these nonverbal signals are going to have an impact on how you're perceived, and they're going to have an impact on whether or not you're influential. So taking some time to reflect on that can really help you show up as that conscious leader and potentially help you get people to do things they maybe thought they never would be able to do right using your hands. Being emotive, changing the tone of your voice. And how you potentially project can completely shift how someone shows up and whether or not they think they're capable of getting something done. So that's something to really think about and even to think about within virtual settings. Because body language can convey so much hand movements can also convey a lot, they can also detract from your message as well. So that's something to keep in mind and something to reflect on. If you're interested in learning more about body language and other nonverbal signals, I'll put a really great link in the show notes. That's actually sort of like a glossary or dictionary for body language that talks about everything from pitch and donation, how you can make sure you look like you're truly engaged when someone is having a conversation with you. All those small shifts can have a massive impact on you being influential. And so I'll make sure that I link that in the show notes and take a look at it if that's something that you want to get a better understanding of a key here. And I also mentioned this within my previous episode talking about communication and being the message is recognising that a lot of this is very culturally specific. And so you want to make sure that you are thinking about what are the things I need to consider within the cultural environment that I'm in related to nonverbal signals as well. When we talk about nonverbal signals. One of the things I also just wanted to mention, especially if you're having a conversation, maybe that's virtual or a conversation that involves you having props or visuals is noticing or keeping in mind that visual aids such as slides, charts, graphics, with presentations can help to simplify complex ideas and information and also can make it easier for your team or Please to understand and allow you to be more influential as well, though I mentioned earlier on that we are not necessarily logical beings, having these types of visuals in your back pocket can go a long way to help to influence and help people who like to think that maybe they're more data driven. Okay, so that's all I really wanted to share. In today's episode, I've gone through this really quickly, I know, but I just wanted to just give you some ideas or some things that maybe you could reflect on in relation to thinking about this concept of influence, this very important leadership skill, this very important leadership concept that I wanted to share. So if you want to dive a little bit deeper into any of them, let me know, I'm happy to make an episode that dives a little bit deeper. But I will also leave some resources where you can learn a little bit more, but what I really want to leave you with and because I'm a coach, I think this is an important thing to leave you with is the question, what is the one thing you're taking away? What is the one area and maybe that you want to work a little bit more on? Is it thinking about it from the perspective of power? Is it getting more in tune with emotions? Is it really building out your acumen? And that's really thinking about how to apply your knowledge and the amazing skills that I know you have? Or is it really thinking about your nonverbal signals, cues? And maybe even the visuals that you use? Which of those four components or pillars? Would you like to spend a little bit more time on, reach out? Let me know, I'd love to hear it. I'd also love to support you if this if this is something that you want to work on. So reach out and I'll tell you a little bit more about my services related to thinking about influence, whether it's for yourself or if it's for your team. As always, thank you so much for taking the time to listen, I hope that you enjoy the rest of your day and you take some time to reflect on your influence. Bye. Thank you so much for listening to this week's episode, please share this episode with someone who can benefit from its contents. If you found this episode helpful, I want to ask you to leave a review. This makes it easier for other people to find my podcast and also allows me to bring on even bigger guests and even more fascinating stories. Thank you so much for listening again. Stay safe and stay sane