Three Essential Rules for Influencing Your Colleagues

Posted 10.18.2022

One of the big differences between leaders who shape the bigger picture for a company and those that hit a ceiling and stay stuck in their functional roles is that the big picture leaders are way better at influencing their colleagues.

I’ve had some amazing big picture leaders and influencers as executive coaching clients over the years and was talking with one of them last week. As part of a larger conversation, I asked him to share his top three rules for influencing colleagues and shaping the bigger agenda. These rules have definitely worked for him and will likely work for you too.

Business First, Function Second – Get used to putting the broader business agenda first and your functional agenda second. Invest your time and attention in connecting the dots on where the overall business is going from a strategic perspective and then find the ways that your own agenda can both support and be enabled by the bigger agenda.

Relationships Count – You can’t influence people you don’t know. Take time to build relationships across your organization – up, down, and sideways. Slow down enough to learn what’s really important to your colleagues, not just professionally but personally. As I’ve written here before, you need to move beyond transactional engagement to transformational engagement.

Figure Out What You Have to Offer – When you know what’s important to the people you work with, you’ll have a better handle on the offers you can make that would be welcome by them. Don’t lead with what they can do for you; lead with what you can do for them. Not only does that establish the expectation of reciprocity, you’re much more likely to identify opportunities to work together that lead to value-added 1+1=3 types of outcomes.

Like most good rules, these three are simple and clear. They also work. Which one do you need to start investing more time and attention in?

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