Fantastic, you’ve got a new job! Now, quick as you can, you need to establish your influence. Unless you can be influential from the start, there is a risk you may have to recover and gradually build it later. The best time to make a great impression is right now as you start moving in the new job. Influential people don’t just arrive ― they make it happen.
When I am coaching someone in this position, these are the typical areas I will challenge them on…
1. Who are the powerful individuals around your new job?
This can be focused on the team you are joining or in the wider organisation. If you want to be really influential, you will need to be able to focus on the wider community of stakeholders. No, you probably cannot answer this question immediately, but you have to pursue the answers quickly and without looking an idiot by asking this question of everyone in sight!
2. What makes these people powerful?
Learning to tune into the currencies of power in a group or organisation is vital. What it does is tell you what skills, assets and tactics have the greatest influence. Strong warning here ― the sources of power you enjoyed in your last position may not work for you in the new job. You have to open your eyes and see how things work in the new place.
3. What are the major challenges currently impacting the group you are joining?
Answers to this will help you to focus on what people are paying the most attention to. There is little point in being the world’s greatest expert in something that nobody is interested in. If you want to maximise your influence, find ways of adding value to the powerful people in the group you are joining. Solving their problems and helping them overcome their challenges is a great way of getting into the inner-circle.
4. How are you different from the people around your new job?
Should you fit in or stand out? We know from social psychology that, irrespective of position, new members to a group are scrutinised and socialised. If you stand out too much or too early, gaining acceptance by the group is going to be difficult. Without acceptance you will struggle to influence. Make sure you take some early strategic decisions about how you are going to play this one.
5. What impression do you want to create?
Yes, good old personal branding ― but it remains something you need to make decisions about. If you don’t, you are bound to make a less powerful impression. This doesn’t mean pretending to be something you are not. Instead, it is about focusing attention on elements of you and your capability, which will maximise your potential to influence. Linking it to your answers to the previous questions will help you to make a dramatic entrance.
Coming up with answers to these challenging questions is only part of the route to influence ― you’ve still got to execute it. There are lots more questions you will need to ask and answer along the way, but if you can start by answering the questions above, you will have a much better chance of becoming influential in your new job.
Colin Gautrey is becoming the most sought-after expert in power and influence by ambitious and talented professionals who are serious about accelerating their careers and their results. But, Colin is certainly not for the faint-hearted.
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Other articles by Colin:
How to Influence Senior People without Looking Stupid
With so many people trying to influence the senior people in big organisations, it pays to look smart and highly competent. This can pay huge dividends, literally.
The opposite is also true — looking stupid in front of an important audience is like making a gift to your opposition. Here is a short tour through some of the most cringe worthy mistakes made by the unwary. Make sure they don’t let these slip into your next influence attempt, because they will quickly erode your credibility, influence and make your confidence fly out…
Clarity and focus around what you can contribute is vital if you wish to accelerate your progress and realise your full potential. Carefully assembling the base for your credibility, demonstrating substance, and focusing on your own competitive advantages will enable you to position yourself correctly, with the right people, and reap the rewards.
How to Make Your Agenda Powerful
While running a webinar for Warwick Business School a few months ago, something quite unexpected happened. This particular event ran quite soon after the publication of Influential Leadership: A Leader’s Guide to Influence. It was the first opportunity that I had had to ask a large group of people to identify the sources of power they were currently using.
As they placed their marks on my virtual slide, something very interesting emerged. Hardly any of them indicated Agenda as a source of power they used. This helped me to realise that the Power of Agenda is a massive opportunity for those who want to grow and develop their career, regardless of their level of experience and seniority.
Let me back up a little.
When writing Influential Leadership, I put a great deal of energy into researching and analysing what makes people…