GHC Day 1: Jo Miller on Becoming a Person of Influence

30Sep09

In the afternoon, I went to the Jo Miller session on Becoming a Person of Influence. She is originally from Australia. She mentioned a few points about being influential at the beginning of her presentation:

  • Emerging Leader’s Quandary: you need leadership experience to get a higher level job, but you need the job to get the experience
  • building a network of influence around you is very helpful
  • feeling more comfortable about coming into work is a result of the increase in self-confidence
  • influencing skills are the single most important factor in your career after knowing your job
  • the same idea from a more influential person is more likely to be listened to
  • you shouldn’t just think about how to influence a particular situation, but how to become a person of influence
  • the sense/presence of calm authority (Our behaviour teaches people how to treat us.)

Next, she talked about the six sources of influence, in bottom-up order:

6. Positional – inherent in your job title and role. built by:

  • telling people what your job is, your role’s importance and how you can help them
  • creating a 30-second commercial for yourself and using this to introduce yourself to people:
    1. Name
    2. Job title
    3. I am directly responsible for a, b, and c
    4. You can come find me when you need x, y, or z (she said zee though, crazy Americans!)
  • doing this well and confidently gives you an air of authority

5. Expertise – comes from your background, qualifications, experience, and expertise (especially important in technical areas)

If you get flustered in an important meeting when someone is pestering you with questions, simply say “I don’t have the data on hand, but I will get it for you right after the meeting.” – this will make you sound smart and collected, hiding the fact that you’re completely shell-shocked. Then you can easily look up the information when you are back at your desk and able to think straight.

Build expertise influence by:

  • promoting your accomplishments
  • not waiting for an invitation to speak up on your topics of expertise
  • presenting in meetings, brown bags, and lunch & learns
  • writing articles and blogging
  • speaking on panels and at conferences
  • (being more assertive)

A pitfall of this type of influence is that “women underestimate their own candlepower, while men overestimate” (Newsweek, Jan ’08) Even though men and women may be equally qualified at something, women will be less assertive about their qualifications and men will be overly assertive, to the point that they aren’t always exactly truthful sometimes!

4. Resources – having access to the resources you need, to do your job well (e.g. getting more head count within your organization)

Build resource influence by:

  • being a strong negotiator
  • learning matrix management
  • cross-training others in your area
  • prioritizing your workload
  • gaining visibility for your work
  • suggesting special projects as development opportunities for others (likely more junior colleagues) *

3. Informational – being an informational powerhouse who keeps a “finger on the pulse” of business, personal & organizational issues (aka the human grapevine)

Build informational influence by:

  • striving to always keep a finger on the pulse
  • staying current on personal and organizational issues
  • knowing who the other informational powerhouses around you are
  • filtering out useful information from gossip/noise
  • seeking out information about changes before they occur (e.g. new projects)

2. Direct – being firm, professional, and direct when someone’s behaviour is detrimental to the team or the organization

You need to be careful with this type of influence and use it in moderation because it can cause low morale – use the 1% rule to determine how often to use it.

Effective uses of direct influence:

  • be firm, fair, and professional
  • be direct and concise when delivering tough news
  • explain what was unacceptable and why
  • focus on the positive vision for the future

1. Relationships – knowing who the key people in your organization, profession, and industry are and building an influential network

* the most important asset that you will have in building your career network (your sphere of influence)

What drives and sustains successful female leaders?

=> Connections

Which source of influence do women not use enough?

=> This was a trick question! Women don’t use influence enough at all, so the answer is ALL of them.

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