Five Rules To Building Influencing Skills - BusinessBlog : McGraw-Hill
Career Leadership

Five Rules To Building Influencing Skills

Guest post by Dirk Schlimm, author of Influencing Powerful People.

How do you engage a powerhouse leader in a way that produces the best possible outcome while remaining true to yourself? Dirk Schlimm has the answers…

In my executive career and subsequent coaching work with managers from around the world I have learned that making an intentional effort to relate better to bosses, peers, direct reports and clients – all while accepting their priorities, perspectives and personalities – is a direct pathway to achieving better results and improving career prospects.

Here are the five critical rules that will help you to build your influencing skills:

  1. Manage (first) impressions. Powerful people make up their minds quickly and draw conclusions from things that others might consider trivial. Therefore, make sure you are on your best game at all times. Whenever possible, turn the conversation to them and their issues.
  2. Know what you are doing. Only an idiot or an imposter would intentionally take an assignment which they cannot perform. But it is still good to remember Peter Drucker’s advice that people perform from strength. Know yours and use them. Don’t be pushed into situations or even a whole career where you are a fish out of water.
  3. Practice humility. Margaret Thatcher once told her chancellor of the exchequer in a cabinet meeting to get a haircut. One could get all flustered at such a humiliating demand. Or, especially if it not a denigration of character or personality, simply take it in stride and go to the barber.
  4. Show appreciation. Like anyone else, powerful people crave appreciation. Once the client knows that you understand what really matters to him or her they will gain confidence in you; and a boss given to micro management will be less likely to interfere. But it is up to you to let them know!
  5. Guard you independence. Powerful people have tremendous charm and influence of their own. As a result, your desire to make things happen for them can easily lead you to doing things that you may regret later. Decide on what you will and will not do ahead of time and with a clear head.

Most importantly, remember one last rule:  Powerful people need people who don’t need them!

Dirk Schlimm is an internationally recognized expert on power, politics and collaboration in organizations and the author of Influencing Powerful People.

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