FRONT OFFICE BY MARY COLLINS

Influencing Others: ‘You Get What You Give’

Your ability to influence can actually make or break your business. Communication within your organization is critical and can be the difference between leveraging or losing key talent. Here are some key points that can provide you with an approach.

Talent strategy and leadership consultant Rob Fazio comments: “Anyone can be ‘influential’ when they have positional power. True influence comes when you can get people to ‘get you’ and the best way to do that is to get them.”

Just as television stations and networks thrive on their ability to attract and compel viewers, media company managers thrive when they focus on the people side of the business. Your ability to influence can actually make or break your business.

That’s no surprise to Rob Fazio, a talent strategy and leadership consultant with the Leadership Research Institute.

In an article appearing in the March/April issue of our member magazine, TFM (The Financial Manager), Fazio observes: “It’s intuitive to media executives that the ability to engage, influence and inspire customers to use certain products or services is often the difference between meeting and missing quarterly expectations. What is less intuitive is that communication within your organization is just as critical and can be the difference between leveraging or losing key talent.

When he meets with clients, Fazio typically begins by asking them two questions:

  • What percent of your day do you interact with others?
  • What percent of your training and education has been focused on the people side of business?

“The proportions are directly related and are often way out of whack,” he says.  I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise. A typical person gets years of technical and on-the-job training, but I can think of very few companies or people who invest in learning the skills needed to influence.    

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Fazio’s article, which you can access in the electronic copy of TFM now available on our website will give you what he believes are the key principles. It will also “introduce you to some key points and provide you with an approach.” To give you an idea how he helps his clients to improve their ability to influence, I’d like to share a few of his tips:

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Influence is a process not a product. It is important to keep in mind that there is no one paramount way to influence someone.

There are many factors that go into successful influence. A number of these you cannot directly control. Some of these include the other person’s mood, personality and values. Focus on what gives you the best chance of being successful and understand what is in your control and what is out of your control.

There are three principles of influence to bear in mind:

  • Manage your impulses to make it about winning and losing.
  • Understand that influence starts with reading (learning), rather than leading.
  • Lead yourself before you lead others.

“If you are able to suspend your drive, agenda and first instinct and think of these principles, you will be more effective at influencing than you ever imagined,” Fazio advises.

To engage people, remember the following formula: Hope + Vision > Resistance. “When you add people’s hope for the future and a vision of how to get there, it is more powerful than the idea of change itself…. Communicating a vision makes resistance decrease and the hope increase.”

Understand what drives people. This includes appreciating our own triggers as well as those of the people we are trying to influence. Fazio says: “When we are aware of our own triggers, we are able to manage our impulses and leverage our desires. Even better is when we are able to understand other people’s drivers and adapt our approach to their motives.”

He goes on to provide some tips on how to uncover these drivers. The driver for people who seem to be more concerned about performance can be described as results-focused. These individuals are more likely to talk about the task than the collaborative relationships required for accomplishing it. They tend to talk more in facts and numbers, while others are more interested in communicating their ideas and opinions by relating stories. “Notice whether someone you’re trying to influence uses words associated with emotion, or if their words are more thought oriented.”

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Pay attention to mindsets.  It is also important to pay attention to the other person’s mindset. Some people are tactical and execution oriented while others may be more strategic and visionary. Human beings also vary in their desire for credit; some want the world to know about their contributions, others “prefer to work under the radar.”

Once we’re aware of the drivers for a particular individual we can take what Fazio describes as “intentional action” using the three “L” words:

Listen — The “most common misstep is to start by pushing rather than pulling.” By asking questions that allow people to build their trust and confidence, we show they are being understood and improve our ability to influence.

Leverage — Applying what we learned from listening, we can appeal to the person’s drivers and integrate their interests into the direction we want to go. As one of Fazio’s colleagues observed, “people often want to move in the same direction, but just may not see the same road.”

Lead — After listening to someone, invite that person to return the favor and listen to you. Use transition statements, statements such as “I appreciate your insights, let me walk you through how I see things,” that are genuine for your style. Fazio points out, “Confidence is contagious. By taking the lead after you have paid attention, you help to set a vision and direction.”

Remember the KISS method. “Keep it simple by saying what needs to be done and then leave it up to the person to take action,” Fazio recommends.

As Fazio sums up: “Here’s the main point to take or leave: When it comes to influence, giving facilitates getting. Everything worthwhile takes effort, and you only get what you give. If you want to get somewhere, be willing to put the time and effort to reach that destination. When it comes to influence, that means gaining awareness before you get action.”

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I hope you’ll take a couple of minutes to read his full article. Regardless of your drivers, It will provide a better understanding on how being as effective an influencer as the media we sell can help to boost our ability to be more effective leaders within our organizations.

Also on the topic of leadership, MFM and BCCA will be offering the third and final Webinar in our Leadership Developments series on April 16. The series has been led by career coach and industry veteran Jane Moyer; its topic of effective delegation will be enhanced by applying Rob Fazio’s influential tips. More information concerning the Webinar is available here.

We have also been gearing up for Media Finance Focus 2013, the industry’s primary source of professional education for financial and business executives. The 53rd annual conference for MFM and BCCA will be held in New Orleans May 20-22 and as its theme of “Unmasking Secrets to Success” indicates, it will feature insights from more than 150 industry leaders on ways to growth your business and boost profitability. Stay tuned for more details in the weeks ahead.

In the meantime, please let me know what you’d like to learn. Educational programs help MFM to fulfill our mission and, as Rob Fazio reminds us, being effective in advancing the industry’s financial practices begins with listening to our association members and industry colleagues.

Mary M. Collins is president and CEO of the Media Financial Management Association and its BCCA subsidiary. She can be reached at [email protected]Her column appears inTVNewsCheck every other week. You can read her earlier columns here.


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