Increase Your Influence at Work

Increase Your Influence at Work

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by Richard A. Luecke, Perry McIntosh
     
 

People who know how to influence others in the office enjoy a greater measure of control over their work lives and advance their careers more rapidly than others.

But what many don’t know is that the mysterious quality known as influence can be learned and developed by anyone.

This practical book, filled with easy-to-apply

Overview

People who know how to influence others in the office enjoy a greater measure of control over their work lives and advance their careers more rapidly than others.

But what many don’t know is that the mysterious quality known as influence can be learned and developed by anyone.

This practical book, filled with easy-to-apply tips for influencing managers, peers, and subordinates, shows readers how to:

Win support for their ideas and projects • Contribute more fully to important decisions • Resolve conflicts more easily • Frame important issues for maximum benefit • Lead and manage more effectively • And much more

Readers will discover how to develop the most important attributes necessary for influence—trustworthiness, reliability, and assertiveness—and find out how to move beyond being passive participants in their work lives, and gain the cooperation and atten tion of those who matter most.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780814416013
Publisher:
AMACOM
Publication date:
07/01/2010
Pages:
112
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

INFLUENCE, POWER, AND PERSUASION

‘‘Our new general manager has had a positive influence on our

business culture.’’

‘‘It’s clear that Helen was much influenced by her mentor.’’

‘‘Our state senator was nabbed for influence peddling in an FBI

sting operation.’’

‘‘Although Steve is the leader of a cross-functional team, he

seems to have very little influence over his team members.’’

The term influence is used often, and in all facets of life. But

what does it really mean, especially in a workplace context?

And how does it differ from related concepts, such as power

and persuasion? This chapter answers these questions and sets the

stage for a greater understanding of influence and how you can

develop and apply it at work.

Power, influence, and persuasion have one thing in common:

Each is something we use to get what we want from others—a tangible

item, a particular behavior (or change in behavior), or accep-

tance of our ideas or modes of thinking. Let’s consider each of

these concepts in turn.

POWER

Power is the ability to get what we want by virtue of command or

compulsion. In the workplace, people who occupy certain positions—

as executives, managers, and supervisors—are invested with

some level of power. They are authorized by the organization

within certain limits to give orders, allocate or withhold resources,

and make decisions. Thus, your boss has the power (again, within

certain limits) to make decisions on who will be hired and promoted

and how work will be done. For example, it’s likely that your

boss has the power to determine when you and other subordinates

will take vacation days. When the CEO tells the head of manufacturing,

‘‘I want costs reduced by 10 percent over the next six months—

show me how you are going to do it,’’ she’s not asking the department

head to do something. She’s not trying to influence or persuade

him. Instead, she’s using her power of position to command

or compel a particular behavior.

Most people in Western societies have a visceral distrust of

power and power differences between people; they favor equality

between people. They are uncomfortable with the idea that some

individuals can command or compel others. To them, power harkens

to historical conditions in which one party arbitrarily exercised

his or her will over others. This discomfort with power spills over

into the modern workplace, where people can be less responsive

to direct orders than to a manager’s appeals for their cooperation.

Thus, new managers quickly discover that their positional power

doesn’t get them very far; bossing people around is very unproduc-

tive. These managers may have the power to command certain

actions, and their subordinates may be obliged to obey, but compulsion

seldom enlists a person’s best efforts. If anything, it may

produce resistance. If the work must be done quickly and well,

managers find that appeals for collaboration are generally more

productive than compulsion.

This is not so say that power has no place in organizations.

Power is, in fact, essential in organizational life. Let’s look at some

situations when the use of positional power is necessary to get

things done:

When a Crisis Occurs. Crises almost always demand a

rapid and unequivocal response. People look to a leader who commands

them to get out when the building is on fire. There is no

time for discussion, convincing, and consensus building. What is

needed to handle a crisis is a command response, not participative

management or employee empowerment. Employees recognize

this and generally accept the commands of leaders during periods

of crisis.

When Consensus Cannot Be Reached. Key decisions can

sometimes be made by consensus, but when people fail to reach

consensus a manager must use positional power to break the deadlock

and make a decision that allows the group to move forward.

When Subordinates Lack Essential Skills or Experience.

Exercising power may make sense in some situations, but not in

others. For example, a manager who tries to boss around technical

professionals or other highly skilled employees does so at his peril.

Skillful people who are dedicated to their work expect to work

with their bosses in getting things done; they do not respond well

to commands or compulsion. Successful managers of these em-

ployees can command the ‘‘what’’ but not the ‘‘how’’—they can

insist on certain results but leave it to skilled employees to determine

how the results are accomplished. However, the opposite

may be true of employees who are new to their jobs or who lack

important skills. In these cases, close direction and command may

be appropriate.

When Employees Lack Key Information. Whether for reasons

of legality, confidentiality, or organizational complexity, sometimes

only the manager can have access to the ‘‘big picture.’’

When the Buck Stops Here. Although it is wise to get

input from others on many difficult decisions, managers must take

ultimate responsibility for some decisions, such as the decision to

hire or terminate an employee.

INFLUENCE

Influence is a means of getting what we want without command or

compulsion. Unlike power, which can be exercised only by certain

people such as managers and executives by virtue of their positions,

influence can be exercised by anyone at any level of the organization.

For example, a savvy manager who enjoys the power of

position sees the wisdom of not exercising it. To return to the example

of the vacation schedule, a ‘‘decree from on high’’ that no

staff may take a vacation during July would likely engender resentment;

the department might experience a rash of unfortunate ‘‘illnesses’’

that month. The savvy manager recognizes that she’ll get

more of what she wants by applying influence. Explaining her concerns

and asking for cooperation to meet department needs will

probably be more effective. For her, influence is a ‘‘soft’’ form of

power.

In contrast to his manager, an engineer working in a research

and development lab may have no formal power; nevertheless, he

may have substantial influence over both his boss and his peers if

he possesses uncanny creativity and problem-solving abilities that

they recognize and appreciate. When he speaks, other people listen—

and they often willingly adopt his point of view. For him, too,

influence is a form of soft power.

Meet the Author

RICHARD A. LUECKE (Salem, MA) is a business writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of The Manager’s Toolkit and the second edition of How to Become a Better Negotiator (978-0-8144-0047-0).

PERRY MCINTOSH (Salem, MA) has over 15 years of management experience at mid- and senior levels. Together, they are the authors of The Busy Manager’s Guide to Delegation (978-0-8144-1474-3).

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