As a businesswoman, I believe that the value a woman brings to any workplace is more than just being able to emulate a masculine approach to their job. I have seen that contributing as a woman means bringing unique aspects of herself into her work. This uniqueness also requires a distinctive approach to cultivating influence.
I tell my clients that influence is an integral part of a successful personal brand and is essential for developing a career. In business, you’ve got to be able to convince others that your ideas or point of view make sense and are worth pursuing. Here are my top ten tips for how women can exert more influence in the workplace.
- Have a strong personal brand – I have seen time and again that a strong personal brand breeds influence. The confidence that comes with understanding your personal brand and what you want to be known for leads to influence over those around you. I tell my clients that their personal brand needs to focus on who they are, how they differentiate themselves, and how they add value.
- Live it consistently – Consistency is how people begin to trust that your personal brand is authentic. Once they believe that you are who you purport to be, your ability to influence those around you increases drastically.
- Develop your self confidence – I’m a firm believer that it’s essential to address your gravitas, which includes reflecting on how you come across to others. Learning the importance of body language, your voice, preparation for meetings and how you command attention can aid in cultivating a strong, distinctive personal brand that carries influence.
- Be assertive about having a voice – If you don’t believe that what you have to say matters, why should anyone else? You need to back yourself and learn to speak out. By doing this you show that you believe you have value to add, and people will begin to see that too. Women often have a good sense of the difference between assertiveness and aggression, so it’s important to apply this understanding. When you believe in what you’re saying, being assertive is a way to cultivate positive authority and earn the ability to influence others.
- Focus on building strong relationships – Resist trying to build authority by distancing yourself from others. Rather make an effort to have personal interactions with your employees and colleagues. Personal relationships are important for cultivating a sense of team, and if people see you as part of the team, they will be more receptive when you share your ideas and opinions.
- Cultivate trustworthiness – Influence is predominantly based on trust. When a colleague trusts you they will be open to your influence. I’ve seen time and time again that the best way to build trust is to be open and honest at all times.
- Pragmatism for the win – Sticking to a single view at all costs can be detrimental as people will come to regard you as stubborn. Knowing when to be flexible and actively support other people’s ideas can help cultivate trust in your perspective so that when you identify moments to stay the course you can use your influence to bring others on board.
- Show, rather than tell – I believe that trying to build influence with only words is futile. Building influence in the workplace requires actions that support what you say.
- Listen – The more you believe in the people around you and incorporate their ideas into your vision, the more they’ll believe in your ideas too. If you want to build up this kind of relationship with your colleagues and employees, you first have to listen.
- Say ‘yes’ to scary things – I tell my clients that they need to put up their hands to take on new challenges, even if they aren’t sure exactly how to do them at the outset. These opportunities help you grow by expanding your perspective, knowledge and skill – all of which will make your influence more effective in the long term.