In his latest blog, communications consultant and long-time LGcomms collaborator Mark Fletcher-Brown offers his thoughts on how to position yourself with your organisation’s leadership for maximum influence …
The key to influence is usefulness – understanding what the people you want to influence want and then helping them to get it.
Question 1: who do you want influence?
Ideally, you should know:
- Who they are – background, profession, demons
- What they want – personally and organisationally
- What keeps them awake at night – usually insoluble problems and outstanding promises
- How they make judgements – intuition, evidence, expediency?
- What they value – and don’t
- What concepts they use to frame the world – use these to shape your propositions
- What words they use – adopt these when communicating with them
- What success is and how they measure it in – this is what matters to them
Find the answers to these questions by looking at and listening to them over time.
Question 2: how do they see you?
If your advice is sought now, you’re probably already perceived to be “a good thing”. But if you’re basically shut out, then you’ve got work to do.
Getting insight is not easy. Assemble it from passing remarks and by reading between the lines. Talk to those who work with the people you want to influence and listen out for nuggets.
Question 3: how could you add value?
Always frame your offer as a solution to their problems. Ask some questions.
- What are the challenges they’re facing now and over the coming year?
- What are their plans to address them?
- In that context, how could you add value?
Question 4: how can you present yourself as a potentially good thing?
Using the insight you’ve garnered, look at yourself and think about whether you are presenting yourself in a way that would be deemed credible by those you are keen to influence. If you’re seen negatively (or not at all) you’ll have to overcome that obstacle first.
Put together a plan to present yourself as a “good thing”, someone that is part of an implementable solution.
Think about the best time and place to make your initial offer. Develop it, rehearse it and then pitch it. If they are interested, deliver.
- Never over-promise
- Never take the credit publicly for your work
- Remember, this is about them – not you.
If you are successful in delivering, keep on delivering. Your influence will grow.
Mark Fletcher-Brown is a Communications consultant and public sector comms expert