I borrowed the title of this post from the book I continually draw leadership wisdom from, Increasing Your Leadership Confidence. While the book was published way back in 1989, it still has a lot of great advice for those aspiring to be better leaders.
One of the chapters deals with increasing one's influence, especially in the decision making process. I'm going to be spending quite a bit of time this month on posts that focus on a student leader's influence.
Author Bob Biehl lists the following questions (the whole book is based on good questions to ask) in regards to influence. I've added a comment or two to help you see how they relate to your role in student leadership.
- What do I consider to be the three most important decisions to be made by other people in the near future?
You only have so much time and so much influence. You can't do everything...but you can do something. Focus your energies on the areas where your influence will make the most difference and do the most good.
- WHY do I want to influence these particular decisions?
Your motives are going to be questioned when you start to exert your influence. You need to be aware of the reasons (the REAL reasons) behind your involvement.
- WHO will actually be making these decisions? And how can I influence them?
Oftentimes, the person responsible for making a decision isn't always the one who will make the decision. Find out who is really pulling the strings. That's the person you'll want to figure out how to influence (and there are a variety of ways).
- Am I committed to the best interests of these people? And how can I communicate that commitment?
The best type of influence works for the good of others. If you are only after selfish gain it will show itself somewhere in the process. And by exhibiting selfishness you start to lose influence. Helping others get what they want will always work in increasing your influence.
- What facts should these people be aware of before making these decisions?
You bring a unique perspective to the process. You might be able to see things or have experience that can add value and help others make a better decision. If you provide pertinent information it will help people begin to see you as a necessary part of the team.
- Have I done my homework?
Influence takes preparation. For example, taking the time to think through these questions is preparing you more than others who simply show up and want to give their opinion.
- What are the value/price considerations in these decisions?
Every decision comes at a price and has a consequence. Helping others think through and identifying possible scenarios will assist them in making a good decision.
- Who else wants to influence these decisions?
Think of it like the little angel and the little devil on a person's shoulder. There are those who are going to agree with your perspective and there are those who won't. Sometimes, your best influence may be spent on other influencers rather than the person who is making the decision.
- How can I invest money wisely to provide influence?
You may or may not have money at stake as a student leader. But you do have time, energy, and your intelligence to invest in this process. Think about the resources that you have at your disposal. How can you effectively leverage those things?
- How will these decisions affect each person involved?
Like I said earlier, every decision has consequences - both positive and negative. Part of your influence may simply be showing the decision maker how a decision might effect other people.
Think about it - you can increase your influence in a situation by how you answer or seek to answer these questions. You can also increase your influence in a decision making process by helping those involved to ask good questions like the ones listed above.
Are there other questions that you need to ask?
Can you think of ways to exert influence apart from merely holding a position of leadership?