Six Steps to Gaining Influence on Your Team

Six Steps to Gaining Influence on Your Team
Thomas Thompson
April 12, 2022
min read

I often see people waiting for the chance to lead.  Looking for the promotion or position where they finally get to shine and show their leadership savvy.  But they make a fundamental error in thinking that limits their leadership and caps their capacity.  John Maxwell nails it:

True leadership cannot be awarded, appointed, or assigned. It comes only from influence, and that cannot be mandated. It must be earned. The only thing a title can buy is a little time-either to increase your level of influence with others or to undermine it. --John Maxwell

  • Influence is not position–just because someone has a title, doesn’t mean they are a leader
  • Influence is not power
  • Influence is not the loudest voice or the person who speaks most in a meeting
  • Influence is not limited to a few people at the top—it can be any person in a subordinate role who adds value throughout the organization
  • Influence is value, respect, gravitas, trust—it is who people listen to in a crisis.  
  • Influence is Leadership–the proof of leadership is found in the followers—whom are you influencing?

Hard Truth: If you don't have the influence you want, that is your fault. 

Often I hear excuses for why leaders don't have the influence they want: “I wasn’t given the chance, I didn’t have the resources.  I didn’t have the authority or title.”  Lame leaders make excuses; great leaders make changes.  They figure it out.  They do more with less.

How can you take action today to create influence? Six Steps to Creating Influence:

1. Do your job.  

Many want to grab the next ring without securing their grip on the current ring.  That leads to a fall. If you are not doing your job, you won't have any voice to speak into others.  

Past success doesn’t guarantee future success, but it sure makes people feel more comfortable with being led and influenced. Find ways to take on challenges and excel in them, and you’ll soon be presented with new responsibilities and leadership opportunities.

“The bottom line for followers is what a leader is capable of. They want to know whether that person can lead the team to victory.”--John Maxwell

2. Do jobs that no one wants.  

Only if you are doing #1 above.  Volunteer.  Do jobs that don't exist. Create jobs.  See things that need to be done but aren't.  When I served as a campus pastor at a church in Texas, I realized no one was coordinating the teaching on all the campuses.  I was not over the other campuses, but offered to be the person who organized our teaching texts, schedules, prepared for our meetings, and captured our learnings with each other.  Not my job, but became a way to add value.

What problem is your team facing?  Ask permission to step in and solve it.  If you do not know, ask your supervisor what you could take off their plate.  Look for unique opportunities to do something that stretches you as a leader and adds value to the organization.  

When an important job needs to be tackled in a dynamic organization, leaders look for a trusted influencer to get it done.

3. Carry the weight. 

Leaders of teams deal with two kinds of staff:  Staff that add weight to their plates, and staff that take weight off their plates.  Staff that bring problems to solve, and staff that bring solutions to choose from.  Which one do you think influences more?

4. Be on the team. 

I once heard the CEO of General Electric say, “your peers determine your success.”  Our influence is only as strong as the relationships with our teammates.  A key learning here is: The team you are on is more important than the team you lead.  

How do you live out this on your team?

  • Back each other’s play.  You may have disagreed or even voted against the decision behind closed doors, but when you walk out, you stand together.  You stand up for each other.  Fight each other in private, then fight for each other in public.
  • Do the hard work of relationship and trust-building. 
  • Be teachable with your team.  Respond to correction with grace and humility.
  • Commit to self-development and your own growth.  Leaders are learners.

If your team relationships are not as strong as you would like, what can YOU change? 

5. Help your boss.  

Make it your number one goal to make your boss successful. Make it your number two goal to make everyone around you successful.

Here is the key:  It is not according to what you think is helpful, but what they think is successful.  To get this, you have to ask, “What would a win look like for me here?  What would most serve you?

Bosses, it is your job to help your team get the A by continually clarifying the PACE and PRIORITY of the people you manage.  Forget the job description in the drawer; what could they do in the next three months that would give them the A?

6. Be a leader multiplier. 

Identify and recruit other leaders.  When you build teams, you are building influence from the ground up.  Just be clear you are building teams committed to the organization and your boss and not to yourself. When your teams are committed to the organization, the vision, and your boss, it actually helps you lead them in three ways:

  1. Your boss trusts you more.
  2. They ingest the values of the organization
  3. You demonstrate to those you lead that you are loyal to the organization, not your own kingdom.

If you don't have the influence you want, that is your fault.  So make a shift and determine you will grow in your influence.

I'd love to talk with you more about this. Shoot me an email and let's start growing your influence today.

Photo by Elijah Macleod on Unsplash

I founded Thompson Leadership to come alongside leaders like you. Together, we will unpack your unique leadership, unearth your biggest challenge, and create an action plan to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
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