Influence skills are essential to anyone seeking to lead others, create change and achieve bigger things than you can do on your own. There are many ways to be influential. Below is a quick and powerful self-coaching framework you can use to assess your approach and ensure you are being inviting not off-putting.
The following is a case study direct from my coaches playbook. Julie is a Sr. therapist and Case worker supervisor for a home health care agenda. She is a technical expert as well as a manager of other case workers. One of the case workers has recently been late for appointments with clients, is backlogged on filing her paperwork, and is complaining about having to take new cases. Julie’s challenge is how to influence the case worker to raise her standards of performance to higher levels of customer care.
Explore your interpretations about the theme that you are focusing your influence on using three different lenses: passion, attachment and commitment.
Here is how Julie defined her belief s about upholding high standards.
I am passionate about doing high quality work. I love to fix things that I see are below expected standards. I can’t help but see what needs improving and it drives me crazy to see it.
I am responsible for upholding high standards, thus it is my obligation to show others how things should be done.
I believe high standards make better companies, happier customers and employees and I am committed to helping everyone participate in upholding the high standards.
Coachee Observations: Julie noticed there were subtle, yet profound differences in how she defined each aspect of upholding standards.
Coaching tip: Don’t judge any definition as good or bad. Just notice the differences.
Develop potential actions to support expression of your influence based on your passion, attachment and commitment.
Show the Case Worker how she is behaving below client care standards and refresh her on how important it is to follow these standards. Share my experience with how fulfilling it can be to make things better. We called this form of influence: Evangalizing
Remind the Case Worker what our customer care standards are. Then tell the case worker how to change her behavior to be more aligned with our standards. Give her examples of successful behavior. We called this form of influence: Telling
Schedule a conversation with the case worker and follow this agenda.
- Remind her customer care standards are, my commitment to upholding them and how high standards can benefit the company, the client and her.
- Seek to understand what is going on with the way she has been behaving. Explore her beliefs about customer care.
- Strive to find something the case worker believes in for our clients that aligns with my commitment to high standards and articulate it to be sure we have agreement about our shared beliefs. If we don’t have this, I will go back to trying to discover more about her beliefs.
- Assuming we have landed on some common ground, engage in idea sharing about how we can partner together to resolve the behaviors that are interfering with her ability to fulfill her role according to the standards expected.
- We called this form of influence: Co-creating
Vet your potential actions against the intended impact to select the best action.
Julie put herself in the shoes of the case worker. She believed she could likely achieve the intended outcome of getting the Case Worker to make some improvements, but the potential impacts would likely be different based on the different approach.
Decided on the optimal action. Do it. Reflect on the result.
Julie recognized that when she examined her views about holding high standards against the 3 different lenses of passion, attachment and commitment she held all 3, but did not always consider which one she would focus on when influencing others.
Typically, Julie’s passion would lead her to then become attached to interacting in a very authoritative way in an attempt to influence others to change. Her autopilot reactions would lead her to extreme evangelism and talking at people vs. co-creating a solution with someone based on a shared appreciation for the importance of upholding higher standards.
Julie chose to follow the course of action we co-created for her focused on her commitment. She learned that she could harness her passion better by broadening her perspective to define what she was actually committed to – for herself and for others. And then helped the Case Worker see what she could see about the benefits to upholding higher standards. The Case Worker stayed engaged in the discussion and came up with a few ideas of her own that she could implement. Julie took an important step in discerning how to be a leader who influences through inspiration vs. alienation.
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