In the May issue of Harvard Business Review, Rob Goffee and Garreth Jones provide a simple diagnostic tool to assess the presence of six common imperatives for the best workplace on earth. Among these imperatives is: "Discover and Magnify My Strengths," by generating value for ourselves by adding value to others.
The art of influence is determining what is important to a fellow leader and then creatively proposing a service or solution that can lend value. This is more often accomplished through a dialogue where you, as leader, are asking lots of questions, before you go in to your passionate monologue about what you can offer. For example, as I coach leaders who are often in "support departments" like human resources or finance, I am often impressed by their passion for what they do, their technical expertise, and their belief in the positive difference they can make. Their habit is to approach an operational leader with "their agenda" in mind.
Claudio was an HR leader who wanted a unit-based manager (Mary) to be more intentional about using employee engagement scores to improve turnover in her area. Instead of approaching Mary with his "case," Claudio asked Mary: "what is taking more time than you'd like in dealing with your employees?" "What difference would it make if you could spend less time doing that activity?" "Where would you like to be putting that saved time?" "How would you feel if you could invest more time in that area?" "Would it be worth 30 minutes a day to be able to do that?" Would you be open to a suggestion to consider?"
Claudio is actually asking perfect coaching questions to engage that leader in getting a result that matters to the HR department. He is doing it, however, by focusing on the leader and what matters to her, than "HR's agenda."
I encourage you to play with this and see what happens! Let me know by commenting here!