I recently watched a webinar with Joseph Grenny and Marshall Goldsmith titled “Level Up: Influence to Get You From Here to There,” and I was struck by the powerful yet simple tips for increasing leadership capabilities. According to Joseph Grenny, one of the most important aspects of leadership is the capacity to influence others. Setting the direction of the company and planning strategy is only half of the equation; you also have to be able to get people to execute on that strategy.
As you begin to think about your Annual Planning session for next year, getting buy in from your team on the big things you will need to accomplish will be a huge factor in whether or not your year will be successful. In order to get your team to buy in, you need to have the ability to influence them. Grenny suggests three tips for influencing others:
1. Influence with Stories: Story-telling is a powerful tool for influencing others because it enables you to connect behavior change to something that is important to your team. If you have ever tried to implement a new program that your team was not motivated to comply with, you know the importance of finding a way to get people to care. You can’t influence someone who is not motivated by exerting pressure or bribing with an insignificant reward. You can change how people feel about their choices by connecting the choices with human consequences. The good news is that if you have done a good job hiring the right people for your company, then your people already have a connection to your company’s values and purpose. Communicating your annual plan to your team in a way that connects them to your long term strategic plan, including your Core Purpose, Core Values and BHAG, is one way to use story-telling to influence your team’s buy-in to executing the plan. Also, sharing your Destination Postcard along with the emotional impact of executing successfully on the annual plan will help convey the story to your team and gain their support. In Rhythm, you can use the Strategy Explorer to help your team visualize how the work they are doing on a daily basis connects to the long term goals for your company.
2. Influence with Deliberate Practice: Rather than using sermons to tell people how they should behave, it is far more effective to lead by your example and to provide people with the concrete skills they will need to effectively implement the behavior you want to see. Give them the opportunity to practice the new behavior and provide immediate feedback. When something goes wrong, your feedback should be instructional first and motivational second; avoid preaching and punishing when helping your team learn a new behavior or habit. The discipline and visibility of using a dashboard to track progress on your annual and quarterly plans is one way to influence with deliberate practice. If you are transparent about your struggles and approach making adjustments to the execution plan with a collaborative rather than punitive spirit, you will model this behavior for your team. If you practice having discussions about making adjustments to achieve the plan without placing blame on individual team members, then they will learn this valuable skill and eventually be able to lead this process on their own.
3. Change the Environment to Change Behavior: We underestimate how much our behavior is influenced by our physical environment. For example, studies have shown that larger plates cue us to eat more than we would if the plate were smaller. Consider how much your office environment and access to the tools your team needs to be successful will impact your effectiveness at executing your annual plan. Do you need to make changes to the physical environment to cue success? Are there systems or tools that need to be in place before your team can effectively execute the plan? Think about how you can arrange the environment to make undesirable behavior more difficult and the desired behavior easier for your team. Social support and social pressure are very powerful for influencing behavior, which is one reason that coming together with your team on a weekly basis to discuss adjustments to your plan execution is effective for actually achieving your plans. Nobody wants to disappoint their coworkers with poor performance on clearly defined goals, and the entire team will be more successful with the support of the group and their ideas for keeping on track with the plan. Establishing the rhythm of Weekly Adjustment Meetings is one way that you can influence your team to follow through with the annual plan that you determine.
In addition to Grenny’s tips for influencing your team, Goldsmith emphasized the importance of frequent follow up for effective behavior change. If you want to increase accountability in your team, one of the most important things you can do is stay involved and follow up with your team as often as possible to encourage the behavior you want to see. So, think about how you can not only come up with the right strategy for your company for the next year, but also how you can influence your team to be motivated to execute on your annual plan.
Best of luck!