As a leader in your organisation, you work in a role where it is difficult to get things done alone. You cannot act unilaterally.
You need to work productively with others if you really want to get things done!
More Than Just Getting Along
In order to accomplish things worthwhile, you need to find ways of working productively with a range of colleagues. Keep in mind that many of these co-workers might have quite different ways of approaching their work to you and some of whom might, at times, have quite different aims to you as well.
Nonetheless, if you are to build the level of influence you need to succeed, you need to find ways of getting things done in tandem with a selection of your peers, senior managers, and team members.
Building a Strong Alliance Foundation
In fact, to get some specific things done you might need to build and maintain influential alliances with selected colleagues.
- Some of which may only last as long as it takes to achieve the aim for which the alliance was formed
- Others of which might prove more enduring and benefit you down the road
Many of your most influential colleagues perform a role which is different from yours; yet interconnected to it.
~ You have to work with them on joint processes.
And to take joint decisions, because it simply won’t work any other way.
~ You may have sound ideas.
But turning your ideas into reality means that you have to influence a range of your colleagues to see the value of your contribution, and to see the merits of working with you to turn your embryonic idea into a practical output.
~You must work.
And be seen to work with each and every one of your peers and senior managers if you are to turn your valuable your raw ideas into action.
However, working closely with influential colleagues can carry risks with it and the potential that, if you don’t handle things well from the start, there will be some difficulties along the way.
Sealing Cracks in Your Foundation
Some of your colleagues might not get what you are saying. They might not see your new idea as an opportunity, but more as a quirky or ill-considered gambit.
They may need some convincing.
Others of them might like your idea, but want to take the credit for it. Others again might say they’ll back you if you can get other people to support you first.
Some may – in unusual cases – want to injure your reputation or damage your profile in the organisation. They might decide to use your new idea against you, seeing it as an opportunity to discredit you politically.
On the other hand, if you handle them well, these very same colleagues could also be interesting, co-operative, and effective co-workers, the very people you need to bring your plans to fruition – and vital to you achieving the aims which matter most to you at work.
Finding Ways to Build on your Foundation
The challenge for you therefore lies in finding effective ways to build influence with colleagues with whom you may have:
- Little, if anything, in common.
- Little to speak about apart from workplace issues.
- Divergent approaches to resolving workplace issues and handling colleague relationships.
- Widely differing sets of values and workplace principles.
- Different ways of handling disagreement and conflict.
So, in order to get things done effectively with colleagues like these you will need to:
- Be mindful of the nature of the political landscape around you.
- Understand what influences each of your colleagues – especially where these factors differ from what influences you.
- Identify what they value at work and what they want to achieve (especially where their aims and the work processes they favour differ from yours.)
- Find individual ways to convince each of them that it would be in their best interests to listen to what you have to say and to work constructively with you to achieve your goals.
Finalizing Your Design Plans Before You Begin
So, the next time you have a new idea or want to initiate something new, spend time formulating a strategy for influencing each of the key players prior to putting your ideas out there.
Commit to doing some upfront thinking about who you want to influence and in what specific way. Decide in advance whose support you most need to secure if you are to bring your ideas to fruition, and put together an influencing strategy to enable you to create the kind of influential alliance you need to bring about the outcomes you want.
Which of your ideas do you want to turn into practical reality? With which of your colleagues specifically do you need to build influence for this to happen? What role do you want each of these people to play as you turn your idea into practical reality? What issues or angles relating to your idea will most interest each of these people? And over which issues or angles will they need convincing? What other factors do you need to take into account as you formulate your strategy for building influence with each of these key colleagues over the coming weeks and months?
Aryanne Oade is Director of Oade Associates
She is a Chartered Psychologist, executive coach, workshop facilitator, author & public speaker
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