I have a confession to make….
I don’t really ‘get’ the lists of influencers that get published by various organisations at various times. Not that I don’t understand them but I don’t get how they are compiled, what they are based on or how they quantify or qualify the individuals named.
Actually, that’s not completely fair some of them make sense, like the Thinkers 50, as those people are changing the world around us and whether we want to be influenced by them is not really optional. I am talking more about the functional lists…
If I was to write a list of the people who have most influenced me it wouldn’t include the former HRD of a major supermarket gone on to lead the HR function of a major public body, it wouldn’t include one management consultant and it definitely wouldn’t include anyone who has 30,000 Twitter followers or a high Klout score.
The list would look something like this (and in no particular order):
- My parents
- My brother
- My best friend
- My closest friends
- My first manager
- My last two managers
- Several people who have worked with me and for me
- A coach I have worked with on and off for some time
- A board colleague from a not-for-profit business I was involved with
- People who have taught me and some I have studied with
- The people I have met along the way who share with me and challenge me
It may sound naive to say I don’t get the lists as the chances are that some people on my list have been influenced by people who’ve been influenced by people etc but I can qualify and quantify why the people listed above are those I consider influential.
All of that being said rather than just confessing that I don’t get the lists I was trying to think constructively and to think of the actions and behaviours of those who I have seen be very effective influencers in an organisational context….
So, to steal a tried and tested format, here is MY (subjective) list of the 7 habits of great influencers…
1. They have convictions but are not blinkered
They will have a clear and likely strong view but will be open to hearing alternatives and understanding the pros and cons of alternative
2. They are clear in their reasoning
Their conviction is backed up by thorough logical thought and not based on a single whim/set of data/conversation. They are able to explain their view and why they came to it
3. The outcome is more important than the credit
The best influencers I have seen are those that are wedded to the change or the outcome not those who are all about seeking the glory of leading a decision. The downside of this is often they don’t get credit or recognition whilst ‘false idols’ do…
4. They play the long game
The best people I have observed realise that Rome truly wasn’t built in a day and that to change things they are going to have to build support, build influence sometimes from the bottom up and that isn’t achieved in one conversation or meeting
5. They see the whole board
It’s a line cribbed from “The West Wing” where the President is playing Chess against one of his advisors and a global diplomatic situation is evolving. Those I admire approach influencing like chess and see all the players involved and do number 4 (the long game)
6. They know the hills to die on
Some situations/meetings will not go your way, some will make what you are trying to do seem impossible. From experience it’s knowing when to deploy your full influence/argument and when to hold off, retreat and rebuild through building
7. They know the price
Influencing requires many things but one of them it appears to me is credibility or maybe more directly organisational collateral. The masters know what it’s worth, how much they’ve got and to point 6 when to spend it. To use a poker analogy – sometimes they fold, sometimes they go all in but they know the value of the bet and of their hand.
That’s my list. Agree, disagree or have an 8th point then I love to hear them. In the meantime I’m off to lobby for a place on the list of “influential bloggers who have worked in L&D and studied organisational behaviour” it’s a small list but our lobby is very powerful
Afterword: having just reread that I think I may get 3 points and a fine for overuse of cliche!