5 Ways to Influence Senior Leaders You Don't Know Well
— July 15th, 2021
Being an Internal Communicator requires being adept and confident at influencing others.
From the relationships and stakeholders we have and the messaging we share, influencing is a key component of the communicator's skill set to be truly effective in your role.
In established relationships, we have learned what works well and how to make a positive impact or impression upon them.
But how do you influence a senior leader you really don't know well or at all?
Here are five ways to hone your influencing capabilities and place yourself in the realms of trusted advisor with the leader you don’t know (yet).
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1. Play detective and then mirror them
The first place to start when trying to influence someone you don’t know or haven’t got established connections with yet is go fact-finding.
Play the detective - curious and open-minded. As a communicator, you are adept at spending time understanding your audience, their needs, their challenges, their communication preferences. It’s the same here.
Watch videos of them. Observe their speeches. Read their emails, blogs, and social media posts.
The effectiveness of your influencing approach will be determined by how well you know them and communicating in a way that mirrors their own style and preferences.
Make it your business and mission to understand and observe them even if it has to start from afar.
2. Find a link with someone you both know
Even if you have zero personal connection with the leader you need to build a relationship with, and influence, there will be a common link between you both through at least one other person..
Your task is to find that person who connects you. Ask them for tips, insight, and information about the leader in question and how best to influence them.
If you haven’t yet been introduced to or met the person you’re trying to influence, this key contact could be the one who opens the door for you.
3. Showcase your expertise
Nothing gets you noticed and more magnetic than being a go-to font of expertise. From your knowledge of the business to the solid understanding of your audience and culture, to the communications you craft and deliver to the data you gather and interpret, make sure you’re on top of your game.
Word travels fast when you’re respected for your craft and it’s likely the leader will be more open to listening to or connecting with you if you’re well regarded.
4. Influence with your head, heart & hands
When the time comes to connect with your leader, to build rapport and make headway with influencing there are three key ways to approach it … and of course you’ll know which one or two to leverage by the knowledge you’ve gathered about them so far.
If you’ve noticed they’re logical in their style and communications you can influence them by appealing to their rational mind. They will appreciate data, facts, trends, knowing what’s worked before.
They will value you based on your expertise and reputation too because they will more likely listen to someone in a place of authority (trusted experts are weighted with authority).
Leaders with a more empathetic, people-focused style will be more influenced by an approach that considers people’s emotions and feelings.
Appeal to their values and that of your organization, as well as their reputation, influence, and responsibilities as a people leader.
Influencing others with the hands' approach involves cooperative appeals centered on collaboration and teamwork. Ensure you seek their input and encourage or enable them to work alongside you in partnership.
This kind of leader will appreciate collaborating on a goal that benefits the greater good, especially if you’re working toward making impactful, lasting change.
5. Pair persistence with flexibility
Persistence almost always pays off, so don’t worry if your attempts to connect with or influence your new leader don’t seem to work at first.
But remember that persistence can work against you unless you pair it with flexibility.
Adapting your approach to tailor it to them, learning as you go along, noticing what switches them off or annoys them, is all part of building rapport and an understanding relationship with someone so that you can influence them – and, as a result, be even more influential yourself.
To further enhance your influencing capabilities you might also like to take a read of another Poppulo article I wrote: How to Influence Senior Leaders When Working Remotely