News & Insight
December 2011

Developing Influence

Tim Morin, President & CEO, WJM Associates, Inc.

WJM Associates has coached over a thousand corporate leaders over the past 16 years. People often ask us, “What is the most common developmental challenge faced by your coaching clients?”

While each coaching engagement is unique, the most common requests involve something like:

  • “Mary is very strategic and has great technical skills, but needs to become better at leading and inspiring others.”
  • “Joe needs to transition from an individual contributor to a leader of a large team.”
  • “Mark needs to further develop his executive presence.”

In 2009, WJM surveyed 200 seasoned Executive Coaches asking them: “As you reflect upon the executives you've coached over the past 2 or so years, what were the most common primary developmental objectives?” The top four responses were:

  1. Build/Align/Motivate Team
  2. Executive Presence
  3. Effective Communications
  4. Interpersonal Savvy

It seems that at the core of all of these developmental goals is the idea of Influence.

What is Influence?

WJM's new Senior Director, Leadership Services Dale Caldwell (see next article), a thought leader on the subject of Influence, provides the following definition:

Influence - a learned competency that, without exertion or force or direct exercise of command, produces an effect that leads to exceptional results driven by outstanding human interaction.

Organizations everywhere have access to the information and brain power to identify great strategies for growth and success. The remaining challenge is, of course, the execution of these strategies. When an organization’s leaders exercise Influence, trust is built, barriers are broken down and creative energy is released. This catalyzes the leaders’ teams into the high impact performance mode needed to execute the strategies.

A Model for Developing Influence

Dale Caldwell’s approach, Intelligent Influence®, provides insight into ways to help leaders maximize their success through influence-driven attainment of specific goals. As part of his approach, Dale differentiates between Internal and External Influence. Internal Influence refers to an individual becoming aware of and managing how they themselves are influenced by others. External Influencerefers to how they in turn influence others.

The model is comprehensive in that it not only focuses on the individual’s influences and ability to influence others, but it also builds his or her awareness and sensitivity to how other people have been influenced in their lives. This increased understanding or empathy goes a long way towards breaking down barriers between individuals and leveraging differences, rather than discouraging them.

Types of Influence

Dale has identified six very different types of Influence:

1. Authority Influence – based on position, authority or ability to command.
2. Resource Influence – based on the ability to share valuable personal assets.

3. Reputation Influence – derived from the respect of others.
4. Thought Influence – derived from innovative ideas or skills.

5. Belief Influence – derived by appealing to the common beliefs or faith of others.
6. Inspiration Influence – derived from the ability to motivate others to act.

Strategies for Developing Each Type of Influence

To maximize individual influence, it is essential that a leader have significant competence in at least one of each of the three ‘spheres’ of Influence (Behavioral, Rational and Emotional). Some examples of ways in which to improve each of the types of Influence are provided below:

Behavioral Influence

Authority Influence™: Set clear vision, mission and goals for your organization or the people that you have authority over.

Resource Influence™: Share the resources (personal or corporate) that you have control over with your employees, customers or other individuals you are attempting to influence.

Rational Influence

Reputation Influence™: Take the time to understand how you are viewed by your employees, customers or other individuals you are attempting to influence.

Thought Influence™: Demonstrate to your employees, customers or other individuals you are attempting to influence that your thoughts and ideas are original.

Emotional Influence

Belief Influence™: Learn how to eloquently connect your personal or corporate mission with the strongly held beliefs of your employees, customers or other individuals you are attempting to influence.

⇒ Inspiration Influence™: Seamlessly integrate what you are requesting with the desires, hopes, values and dreams of your employees, customers or other individuals you are attempting to influence.

This focus on Influence provides a new paradigm for strategic planning, leadership development, talent assessment, employee engagement and diversity and inclusion efforts. For a white paper on Dale Caldwell’s Intelligent Influence® Framework or for more information on WJM’s executive coaching and leadership development workshops utilizing the Intelligent Influence® model, please contact your WJM Account Director or Tim Morin at [email protected].

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