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Master The Art of Influence

When it comes to getting your employees to do what you want, don’t discount the effect of a positive impact.

Entrepreneur

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Do you sometimes question the amount of authority you successfully exert over your employees? Do you ever think you’re not as commanding and effective as you’d like to be? If so, you’re not alone; many other entrepreneurs share similar concerns and would like to be able to increase their influence over their employees. (Influence is defined here as the process of having an impact on other people.)

My experience shows that business owners who master the use of influence are significantly more successful than those who don’t. These masters of influence inspire people to do what they want them to do. They motivate their staff towards increased productivity, profitability and achievement without incurring the typical cost of organisational repair and maintenance.

Recent research shows that the following seven methods are the most effective techniques when it comes to influencing others:

1. Rapport. This technique involves creating relationships by expressing your feelings and identifying those feelings in others. So ask your employees how they feel, how their work is progressing, what they feel are obstacles to their success, how they feel about the work and the workload they have. Then be honest and tell them how you feel about them, their work style and their productivity.

Sharing this information lets others know exactly “what the score is” and often leads to improved openness and productivity. Employees will appreciate your efforts and concerns about them and their work.

2. Teamwork. To develop a feeling that you’re all part of a team working for the same goals, you need to create a synergy. Hence, create an environment in which everyone is effectively working in a unified and co-ordinated manner with others to meet organisational goals. As you put people together in teams to solve problems or chart future courses of action, your employees will get to know each other better, can more effectively use and appreciate one another’s skills and will build on one another’s capabilities to solve problems. When the outcome is efficient and productive, you will be seen in a positive light since you were the one who created the team.

Gaining & maintaining influence over your employees involves three crucial challenges

1. Creating specific, measurable and attainable goals

2. Identifying the tools, or resources, necessary for accessing internal and external sources of influence

3. Defining and using influencing techniques

3. Logic. This technique involves managing your employees by using valid, rational reasoning. When speaking to your employees, do so carefully, in a clear, unemotional and orderly manner in order to explain issues, ideas and processes. Be sure to solicit their questions and concerns. Then explain any uncertainties and complexities in a manner that makes sense to them. If you can remain unemotional, but not unfeeling, about the goals you all need to achieve, your employees will come to regard you as a very effective leader.

4. Assertiveness. When you ask questions, make assertions and share ideas in a way that doesn’t overwhelm, embarrass or belittle your employees, they will come to admire you and value your input because you have learned to express your thoughts and feelings with due regard for others. Furthermore, your employees will usually share more of their questions and concerns with you because you will have created a safe and positive environment for them to work in.

When considering which strategy to use, you need to consider these key factors:

  • Your preferred style of leadership
  • The style and personality of the person you want to influence
  • The issue at hand
  • The specific situation
  • The location or environment in which the influence will take place

5. Aggressiveness. This is related to assertiveness and involves expressing your thoughts and feelings without due regard for others. Although this isn’t a technique to use on a daily basis, in times of emergency – when quick responses and decisions are needed, being aggressive can be seen as positive, as long as the emergency doesn’t occur often.

6. Credibility. You’ll gain respect by demonstrating your expertise using appropriate language and timely, accurate responsiveness. When you correctly respond to employee questions or concerns, when they can rely on you to follow up, when you modestly demonstrate your expertise, you easily impact others and have a very strong, positive influence on them.

7. Cultural hierarchy. Understanding and using your knowledge of “how things are done around here” is a powerful way to get others to do what you want. By reminding them what acceptable behaviour is by modelling it yourself and by acting in a manner consistent with those behaviours, employees will learn to respect your leadership abilities and be willing to follow your direction.

These seven influencing techniques can be learned and easily applied to almost any situation. At times, one strategy will be more effective than another. Sometimes, a combination of strategies is more powerful. For example, a specific strategy used to influence an employee in an employee review may not be the same one to use in a sales training class.

The secret to mastering the art of influence is to create specific, measurable and attainable goals to determine which resources you have, and then employ your techniques. The world needs influential leaders. Be one!

Building Influence

To get started, first visualise a specific, measurable and attainable task or series of tasks that, when achieved, will make you feel influential and appreciated by others. Then sit down and work out how you can transform these tasks into a series of concrete, achievable steps.

Next, identify the tools or resources you already possess as an influential or potentially influential leader. These resources are the factors that assist you in expressing influence. And don’t think you don’t have any – whether due to modesty, lack of awareness or just plain ignorance, many of you probably don’t use or aren’t even aware of the internal tools at your disposal. In other cases, you may need to borrow tools from external sources to increase your influence.

Not sure what tools you have at your disposal? Here a few examples:

  • Intelligence
  • Good judgment
  • Creativity
  • Knowledge
  • Skills
  • Assertiveness
  • Business network
  • Budget
  • Equipment
  • Past successes
  • Reputation
  • Expertise
  • Job position
  • Charisma
  • Leadership ability

Of course, no one has all these tools. But clearly, the more resources you have and the more you can amass from others, the more influential you’ll become. The strategic question now becomes: with your specific, measurable and attainable goals determined, and with your key tools in place, how can you positively influence your employees to work to their full capacity? The answer: by learning specific influencing techniques.

We all know how to yell, but this is rarely effective when it comes to exerting influence. It can impact others, but the impact is usually short-lived and negative. And negative influence often encourages retribution, resistance and decreased quality on the part of the person who was negatively influenced.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

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Leading

Become Your Best In Business

How can you streamline the actions you take in your business?

Dr John Demartini

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A few of the primary keys to becoming successful in business include having a clear intent or purpose, a truly inspiring vision, a grand message to share, a genuine social calling and a targeted niche to serve. From these initial basics arise the primary strategic objectives you would love to accomplish or achieve and a plan for their implementation. But before these objectives can be met, the mastery of the mind is to be initiated.

True business leaders are those who are congruent and integrated and who can organise and lead their inner parts purposefully. Once leaders govern themselves, they can govern others.

Time Is Life

When you loaf about, your mind starts thinking about all kinds of doubts, insecurities, fears, other people’s beliefs and worries about what’s happening and what isn’t happening. Such dead time can zap your energy and confidence levels and distract your mind from your purpose. Any time or space that’s not filled with high priorities often automatically becomes filled with low priorities.

Have you noticed that when you’re busy, you often accomplish and create much more? The more intensely you’re focused and active and the longer you maintain such a focus, the faster your accomplishments (time x intensity = results). Time spent on doubt, fear, or low-priority actions slows down your accomplishment process.

When you take your mind off your focus, all you see are obstacles. When your mind is focused on your dreams, you don’t have time for the many self-doubts that block them.

Raise Your Standard

Anything you do consumes time. To maximise the value of your time, prioritise your interactions. People who seem less busy and want to consume your time may think you’re being rude when you say no to their invitations, but busy people understand immediately that you’re just choosing to prioritise and wisely manage your time.

People who don’t value their own time want to take up yours with small talk, and if you keep associating with people who talk small, you could end up with a small life. You’ll find out what kind of people they are by putting a fee on your time and raising that fee regularly. If people really value your skills and time, they’ll pay for it.

“A man’s growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Efficiency and Effectiveness

Often when you perform a service for less than you feel you deserve, you lower your worth and enthusiasm and slow down your business. Even though you may be working like a ‘dog’, it’s neither efficient nor effective.

Any aspect of your work that pays less than you truly feel you deserve can become the weak link of your business. In addition to undermining your motivation, inefficiency and ineffectiveness can also reduce profit margins. When you or your employees perform effective actions in an inefficient way, ineffective actions in an efficient way or ineffective actions in an inefficient way, your business becomes undermined. Your worth can be determined by how efficient and effective you are at performing high-priority actions. Business masters are those who love what they do, do what they love, and work efficiently and effectively. They delegate everything else to those who desire to do the same.

How can you streamline the actions you take in your business? Ask yourself, “What can I delegate?” You’ll be far more productive, energised, and inspired at the end of the day when you can stick to actions you deem to be high-priority. Unless you value your time, neither will the world.

For more information on Dr Demartini’s teachings, visit www.drdemartini.com

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Leading

How To Be A Leader

Lead by example and you’ll win the respect and loyalty of your staff.

Richard Mukheibir

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Being a successful entrepreneur is not about locking yourself away in your workshop and bringing a great innovation to life. Certainly, you need a must-have product that will have customers beating a path to your door. But you also need the business skills to ensure you can scale up production – and the leadership skills to motivate the staff you have employed to help you make this happen.

It is rare to find these three key skills balanced equally in an entrepreneur. Most have more of one quality than another – but there is one of these qualities that we tend to fool ourselves about.

Most of us know whether we have creative skills that can produce great innovations or whether we need to improve our business skills. Almost all of us assume we can be leaders if circumstances mean we have to step up to the plate. However, almost all of us are wrong about that.

Leadership skills are something that you develop and hone as your career progresses. You might think that being head girl at school, rugby captain or president of your Toastmasters’ branch means that you have got leadership nailed.

You would be right that you have some leadership experience. But you are wrong because so much about leadership depends on context. Just as what works on the rugby field and what works in the debating chamber are not the same, so what works in business is different.

In part, it can depend on the size and sector of your business. That in turn is partly because your understanding of the context – your business savvy as opposed to your business skills – is as important as your credibility as a leader.

But there are some common traits in leaders that work in all business contexts. Once you have these nailed, you will find that you can reuse them in different businesses as you expand your entrepreneurial interests.

Here are three starter principles to put into practice today:

1. Be first

Get to work first and leave last. As an entrepreneur, one of the prime qualities you need is energy. You need to put mental and physical energy into knowing the detail of what is going on in your business.   Listen to the insights of your staff as to how your systems are taking strain or could be streamlined. If you are serious about growing your business, you cannot expect to achieve this as a sleeping partner who drops by the business premises at best once a week.

2. Be a team player

Make it clear that you are not giving yourself privileges just because you are the boss. If your business involves any kind of production line, whether actual or virtual, you should be able to pitch in and help out if there is a rush of demand or an unusual number of staff hit by the virus that is going round. This is also an opportunity to check personally on the effectiveness of the systems you have set up and make tweaks where you see bottlenecks or downtime occurring.

3. Be last

As well as leaving work last, you should also pay yourself last. Consider this part of your investment in your business – and also an investment that will pay dividends in consolidating staff loyalty.

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Leading

Peak Performance – How To Become A Strong And Legendary Business Leader

The starting point is to consistently and constantly build and mould an unshakeable character and add a clear strategy for your personal life and your business.

Dirk Coetsee

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‘Leadership is a potent combination of Character and strategy’

– General Norman Schwarzkopf

Leadership has long fallen into the category of the enigmatic. It is no longer the case considering the ‘deep dive’ neuroscientists, psychologists and industrial psychologists have taken into understanding the brain and human behaviour in general.

For those that have a deep and driving desire to understand themselves better volumes of highly beneficial research are available to you. How willing you are to seek for and apply the infinite amount of knowledge out there is dependent upon your priorities, your ‘grit’ and your level of desire to personally transform and be impactful in this world.

Most of all a strong belief in your own abilities to become a legendary business leader is a basic requirement for the alchemy from follower to leader to take place.

The human nature guru Robert Greene describes a strong character as follows:

“Strong character has a tensile quality like a good piece of metal – it can give and bend but still retains its overall shape and never breaks”

Character is who you really are, not what you want others to think of you. Who you truly are is especially revealed under the most challenging circumstances. How your investors, co-founders, employees and clients view you is highly dependent upon your actions during times of business crisis, failure or when you as an entrepreneur are faced with turbulent personal circumstances.

The ability to authentically and empathetically (towards yourself and others) take a stand for your beliefs, admit (to yourself most of all) to your mistakes, rectify them (the highest and truest form of an apology) within times of strife and difficulty leads to a strong and un-breakable character.

Through this writing you are strongly urged to reflect on the fact that a strong character will not fall from the sky and simply be bestowed upon you, instead a strong character, akin to steel, is moulded and shaped by fire meaning that your character is mostly shaped by challenging times.

As the late master poet Leonard Cohen said –

‘There is a crack in everything that is where the light seeps in’

Nothing is perfect and when you truly learn from failures and mistakes your wounds can become blessings, your tests can become testimonies and you can lead others to achieve the same.

Those that have a slight and very determined smile on their face and maintain belief and even dramatically increase their levels of performance the moment they recognise that they have arrived within a highly challenging space are the ones that have trained for that exact moment.

The Navy Seals say:

“You do not rise to the challenge you fall to your level of training”

All external information gathered within each moment enters the brain and is processed through the Amygdala first – that part of the brain that provides housing for the ‘fight or flight’ response. Information is first filtered through your very own doubts, fears and insecurities.

If you have not worked on your own fears diligently and instilled habitual mechanisms of effective action triggered by fear your re-actions of lack of action (procrastination) will not be optimal at all. ‘Grit’ is born at the intersection of passion and perseverance and can be trained. Bravery can be trained. Leadership can be trained. Character although influenced by genetics can be trained.

All tools to succeed at the aforementioned subjects are within us all, in a lot of cases lying dormant and anxiously awaiting your increased levels of awareness which will empower you to use the tools required effectively.

As a practical example I coach my ‘Peak Performance’ clients to train for Grit in the following way – Choose a day of the week when you are especially tired and not in the greatest of moods force yourself to the gym and train the toughest muscle group for you (usually legs) and where you normally do three sets of squats do seven and make those sets harder than before in every way.

Or again choose a day of the week again where you are very tired and instead of taking a plunge onto the couch to watch ‘Game of Thrones’ or whatever it is, go and hike, a long tough hike that will really test you.

It does sound harsh but you will thank yourself when the tough times occur and they will, that you have willingly trained yourself for grit.

On to the subject of Strategy which forms a potent combination with character and results in Leadership.

Dictionary.com defines strategy as:

A plan, method, or series of manoeuvres or stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result.

For a strategy to be effective a basic requirement of many requirements is that a clear and highly specific end vision and/or goal, and/or result must be defined. Visions, goals or desired results are often vaguely defined because the often subconscious fear of clearly defining our failures by setting clear and measurable goals plagues us.

The mind struggles with finding solutions, answers and strategies when vague goals are set. It is also very hard to retain focus on anything that is very vague. As the importance of an effective plan to achieve your well defined Vision and goals cannot be overstated I strongly recommend getting expert help to facilitate a future session.

Once the desired end result, goals and vision is crystal clear we can ‘reverse engineer’ an effective plan that can actualise our dreams. We need to create a metric system that constantly, consistently and visibly measures our progress and success of our plan. The metrics will notify us of challenges and will signal a need for adjustments within our strategy.

The very good news emanating from this article is that anyone can be a legendary leader should they not only sincerely wish to be a leader but also take effective action on becoming one. The starting point is to consistently and constantly build and mould an unshakeable character and add a clear strategy for your personal life and your business.

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