Some people seem to be naturally gifted physically, intellectually or artistically, and it appears as if they just float to the top. Don’t be fooled. However gifted someone may be, he or she still had to develop those talents to achieve the top professional position. That’s good news for the rest of us. Each one of us has our own skills and talents, and we too can develop them moving ourselves into a more influential position.
Below are five ways to enhance those skills:
You may never have to debate in the House of Commons but everyone should be able to put together a coherent argument. That skill is critically useful – in high level conversations, in presentations, in question-and-answer sessions and in other discussions with decision-makers or anyone else who represents a certain viewpoint or asks you to explain yours.
To argue means to give reasons. It means defending and promoting your choices against the contrary arguments of equally adept influencers. You will find that your ability to think critically and analyse others’ arguments will dramatically increase your influence on their choices.
Storytelling has been top strategy in influencing people across cultures and eras. Influencers tell stories for strategic purposes. From motivating people to act, to teaching, to reducing resistance and changing minds, a well told story is a formidable force, often far more powerful than merely reciting financial or technical facts.
Numbers and figures are important, but when it comes to showing their relationship to any issue, large or small, a story wrapped around the numbers will deliver the message better and more memorably than anything else.
Decision making is a top leadership competency because it pops up everywhere, from the simple choice of where to hold a staff meeting to the strategic options of where to allocate marketing spend..
Decisiveness is not a trait we’re born with – it is a skill that can be learned. To master it, analyse your process of decision making to spot weak links in your reasoning and to recognise unconscious biases for or against something or someone.
You can’t have an intelligent conversation with your peers and clients if you’re stumped when faced with everyday topics such as the election, taxes, budget deficits, interest rates, markets, unemployment, economic instability in China, etc. You don’t need to be an expert on these topics, but you do need a basic understanding of them.
Influence is about shaping opinion, and holes in everyday knowledge can significantly dampen your 360 degree influencing efforts. To fill these gaps, set aside a particular time each day to learn what’s in the news. Make it a daily habit. It will require no more than 20 minutes.
It’s the 21st century, and even 5 year olds know about Twitter, Facebook and the latest multimedia platforms. Social media is here to stay. If you don’t have an ongoing online dialogue with your customers or if you need a 19 year old to show you the ropes every time you log on to your website’s forum, you’re behind.
Business is online, and customers are looking for you to be present. For the majority of people with whom you’ll come in contact, your reputation and perceived influence start with what they can find about you on the Internet.