Using Social Influence As a Leadership Tool
By Terri Jones Cherry
In advertising there is a saying that emotion drives people to action. Meaning your advertising campaign needs to resonate with viewers on a deeper level than simply logic. I would say the same is true of effective leadership. Leadership does not have anything to do with seniority, executive title or personal attributes. Leadership is utilizing social influence in order increase the efforts of others, towards the achievement of organizational goals. Leadership requires social influence, but not necessarily authority. Managers garner cooperation of subordinates through the use of their authority, but it does not make them a leader. Effective leaders connect with and inspire others to achieve goals through teamwork.
Leaders should work as collaborators with team members to produce their best work and achieve organizational goals. What are some ways you can utilize social influence to increase the effectiveness of your leadership?
1. Develop a partnership mindset: It's not a "you versus them" scenario. You and your employees are partners. In order to get the work done everyone must do their part to make sure the organizations goals are met. Therefore, an authoritarian mindset of "I am manager and these underlings must do what I say" is an archaic and unproductive way to do business. As leader of a team, you're still a team member. A partnership mindset of the leader can influence the team to take on ownership of their roles and outcomes in the organization.
2. Get to know your team members: In order to resonate on an emotional level and build trust with your team, it requires building a relationship with them. When you understand each of your team members and learn what they can do well, you can assign them the tasks they will likely succeed in. Effective leaders get to know their team and use that connection to maximize performance. Making employees to feel more valued and appreciated can go a long way to motivating them into producing their best work.
3. Big Picture: Make sure that each and every employee understands how what they do on a daily basis is directly tied to department and organizational goals. When you can't see the forest for the trees it's easy to lose sight of the goals and how you fit in. This can lead to complacency and apathy. No matter where they are on the org chart, the employee needs to know how they fit in and how what they do contributes to the goals and keeps the cash flow coming in.
4. Keep your employees' best interests in mind: In every leaders' day, there will be decisions made that someone will not like. However, when your employees feel that you have their best interests in mind they are more productive, more innovative, and less prone to absenteeism. It's human nature- we're more likely to be nice to those who we know have our back. Act with fairness, honesty and in the best interests of your team and they'll reward you.
5. Encourage growth: Help employees grow more autonomous. This autonomy is a benefit in the rapidly changing world of business. If you are teaching your employees to be more flexible, they will have the ability to turn on a dime as business needs shift. Over the years, on a number of different teams, I've seen good employees be incapable of adapting quickly enough to save their jobs when the needs of the department shift. This in part can go back to the manager who only made sure the employee was equipped to do the job of the time and did not encourage employees to grow with new skills. Leaders should actively seek to remind their employees and themselves to expand skills and provide time within reason. Not everyone will want to participate in learning new skills but the leader should provide the encouragement and options. The benefits of employees who can think for themselves and adapt, put your team and the company as a whole in a better position to successfully achieve goals.
A criticism of relationship oriented leadership style is that the leader can become too attached to their subordinates and not want to upset them, or that some team members take advantage of an accommodating leader. These situations can be detrimental to achieving organizational goals. The relationship oriented leader needs to keep in mind is that the relationships are built with the team in order to complete the tasks necessary to achieve the organizational goals. Understanding who is best for the particular task does not mean that there are responsibilities that can be ignored. Effective leadership happens with a balance of relationship and task oriented leadership styles. Bringing collaborative elements into your leadership style can have a positive influence on your team's productivity.
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