Why Leaders Have Given Up On Influence

It seems as though most leaders have given up on influence. So much of their time goes into developing strategy, building a strong team, implementing winning ideas, operating a company… They’re so busy building the big picture they don’t have time to influence the behaviour of the people who will execute their ideas.

We see this in all industries. We spoke with spoke with the CEO of a large defence contractor a number of years ago who was in the fight of his life to try to save the organisation. Thousands of jobs would be lost unless they could fundamentally change behaviour across the organisation in a way that would help them win new work. And yet, he told us that for 25 years their efforts to affect this kind of behaviour change had failed dismally.

We’ve seen similar scenarios in healthcare, education, heavy industry, corporate, the list goes on. Influencing behaviour change is simple, with the right tools. You can’t rely on influence to work with incentives and verbal persuasion, they almost always fail.

What we know and teach is that the most influential leaders understand the six sources of influence that drive employee behaviour. When strategies within these sources are implemented, leaders are ten times more successful in their efforts to influence rapid, profound, and sustainable change.

A blog isn’t the best place to break down the influencer model and discuss the six sources. Although, it is a good place to give you a couple steps to help influence behaviour change.

Step 1. Clarify the results you want to achieve, along with a way to measure them.

Step 2. Identify a handful of the high-leverage, or what we call vital behaviours, that if changed will lead to those results.

Step 3. Open your eyes to the six ways your organisation is perfectly designed to create the unhelpful behaviour you’ve currently got. For example, if people are failing to wash their hands, there are six categories of influence that are contributing to those failures. Until you can recognise all six of those categories of influence, you’ll be ineffective at changing that behaviour.

Step 4. Last, marshal those same six sources of influence to both motivate and enable people to change.

We put together a study of over 2300 participants to help understand why leaders lack influence. What we found was that more than half the time leaders do little or nothing to reverse dysfunctional behaviours at work.

In the research report you can find more points on how to increase your influence.

Download: leaders lack influence.

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