Gaining Influence

As a leader in several volunteer organizations, I have much experience in recruiting volunteers, empowering teams, creating internal and external partnerships, and developing a sense of ownership.

Because of this background, I was asked as a leadership coach give a short staff development workshop at a local counseling center. Within their context, the need is to build a client base.

In order to achieve this, the staff needed instruction on how to develop advocates and build partnerships.

Advocates who will speak from their experience are create an organic word of mouth in the community each counselor is attempting to influence. The difficulty in this is compounded for a counselor by the fact that people are reluctant to talk about their counseling experience. Often this comes with a sense of shame or weakness.

Beyond the individual level, the staff was looking to build partnerships with other organizations where they could provide their services.

How does one gain influence?

Speaking broadly, there are two main approaches to making big asks of people’s time and/or behavior.

1. Tell people WHAT you want done.

This is the most common approach. All of us do this with some degree of frequency. Most people employ this method exclusively.

The WHAT  is easy to verbalize because it is in the forefront of our mind.

The WHAT takes less energy to communicate.

The WHAT sometimes gives us the result we want, namely compliance.

Yet, it is rarely the most effective method for being influential.

It is asking for obedience and the response will be for the doer to simply get the job done – if they choose to do it at all.

Repeatedly telling people WHAT to do leads to burn out and resentment.

It is intrusive. It is not compelling.

It does not give the doer a sense of ownership, so it is easily forgotten. The alternative…

2. Tell people WHY something needs doing.

Why should anyone care? What is the purpose or belief that motivates this desired behavior or product? What is the vision?

Give them the reason you feel compelled. Tell them why the result is important or needed.

Then you can give them the WHAT.

Obviously, this takes more effort. More time is necessary to engage this process.

It requires that YOU have thought through the WHY.

But, it breeds sustainability. The WHY gives energy. It creates buy-in.

Because the belief becomes the belief of the advocate or partner.

They will then own the belief and thus invest in the outcome. Creating advocates and partners of their own.

Here is an exercise: write down WHY you are doing what you are doing? What is your compelling vision that people can join in?

I am a certified coach specializing in leadership, relationship, and identity. Services I offer are one-on-one coaching, speaking at organizations/churches, leadership workshops, and church retreats. For more info, click here to email me.

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