Australia’s top executives discuss why social influence is the most important skill for leaders
Business smarts alone will only get you so far.
You can be an extremely clever strategist, innovator or problem solver, but if you can’t inspire, motivate and influence others by communicating powerfully, you will not succeed as a leader.
You could certainly be an outstanding individual contributor with your technical brilliance. But to be a leader, you need to match that talent with excellent social influencing skills. Listening, collaborating, persuading, communicating – these are skills that drive success for leaders.
Leadership, after all, is the art of influencing others to accomplish a goal.
Australia’s top business leaders who took to the stage at our recent events, echo the importance of social influencing skills.
Here is how they demonstrate social influence to be successful in their leadership roles.
1. Ability to clearly and concisely articulate your vision to others.
2. Commitment to both evaluate and celebrate as you and your team move towards that vision.
3. Willingness to learn from all those around you and to share what you’ve learnt.
4. Transparency and openness; Being open to feedback good and bad, and using it to grow stronger relationships.
In leadership roles you often have to give very hard feedback to people. I have had to be very clear about what is going to work and not work.
I try to listen to the other person with real curiosity to work out what is going on for them and give them feedback in a way that they will understand.
It’s a question of being clear to be kind. Allowing someone to live on with expectations that can’t be achieved is not good leadership.
Second is receiving challenging feedback. Early in my career I had a boss who assigned a mentorship coach for me to improve my managerial skills. Initially I was a bit shocked, but I put my shoulder to the wheel and worked hard to use the feedback in the best possible way.
Connect the long term vision of the company with the everyday action of its people. Those that are motivated by the vision will perform, and those that are motivated by the pay cheque only, will be the ones who will ultimately check out anyway.
Publicly reward behaviours within your team that you are trying to encourage across the company.
Talk slightly in the future tense – as in, by speaking to stakeholders as if things have happened, they often do.
Be open, honest and candid will always mean your foundations are secure and those around you know what to expect, rely on and trust.
Being true to yourself is the baseline for establishing trust not only in you but those around you.
Be humble: If you treat others the way you want your loved ones treated (a higher standard than the usual idea of treating others the way you expect to be treated) you will quickly learn that every person matters.
And finally be helpful – pay forward what’s been shown to you. Gratitude is best recognised in helping someone else.