Guest post by Joseph Grenny, co-author of Influencer.
In the study “Leaders Lack Influence,” conducted by VitalSmarts, more than 2,300 respondents were surveyed about how leader influence may determine employee behavior. The study found that only six percent of leaders influence bad employee behaviors in a way that lasts. When poor behavior persists, it can affect everything from employee satisfaction and productivity to the quality of work produced.
So how can the other 94 percent of leaders increase their influence? Are you an Influencer?
Here are 5 tips for how leaders can increase their influence in creating lasting change:
- Focus on behavior. Leaders who simply repeat vague values drive little change. Those who identify concrete and clear behaviors they hope people will enact are far more effective influencers. For example, five million people were spared from AIDS in Thailand when one leader moved beyond vague awareness campaigns and focused on 100 percent condom use in the sex trade.
- Connect to values. Use potent stories and direct experiences to make change a moral and human issue. New York restaurateur Danny Meyer helps employees connect to the value of “hospitality” rather than just “customer service” by repeatedly sharing powerful stories of meaningful guest experiences their colleagues create.
- Invest in skills. Most leaders see influence as a matter of motivation. Influencers invest more in building ability than simply motivating the masses. For example, healthcare CEO Matt Van Vranken influenced massive increases in hand hygiene habits in his nearly 20,000-employee hospital system by helping employees develop skills for speaking up when they saw a colleague violate hygiene standards.
- Leverage peer pressure. Social influence is the most potent force for change. Research shows that if people believe bad behavior is normal they are far more likely to follow suit. A Ghanaian gold mine reduced vehicle accidents by engaging respected drivers in training other drivers in proper safety practices. Peers were far more effective at gaining compliance than either staff professionals or senior leaders had ever been.
- Change the environment. Use tools, technology, information and surroundings to make people conscious of the need to change and enabled to make better choices. For example, software entrepreneur Rich Sheridan cut employees’ time fixing errors from 40 percent of working time to no time at all by putting code writers in teams of two, sharing one computer. This environmental change significantly increased employee productivity and morale
VitalSmarts is an innovator in best practices training products and services that has trained more than one million people worldwide and worked with more than 300 Fortune 500 companies. www.vitalsmarts.com
Joseph Grenny is a New York Times bestselling author, acclaimed keynote speaker, and leading social scientist for business performance. For thirty years, Joseph has delivered engaging keynotes at major conferences including the HSM World Business Forum at Radio City Music Hall. Joseph’s work has been translated into 28 languages, is available in 36 countries, and has generated results for 300 of the Fortune 500.