Traditional approaches to developing influencing skills focus on the individual. However, there is an opportunity to adopt a different mindset — instead of working out how you can be more influential, think of how you can make your team more influential. As leader, the more influential the team becomes, the more influential you can become too!
Referring to countries, The World Bank has noted that, “Increasing evidence shows that social cohesion is critical for societies to prosper economically and for development to be sustainable”. If social cohesion can be good for countries, it can also be good for teams and organisations.
Social cohesion is usually quantified with the concept of Social Capital in economics, which refers to the quantity and quality of the connections that members of a given society or group have between them, and with others outside of the group. More specifically, they look at…
- The number of connections.
- The level of trust within those connections.
- The cultural consistency within the group.
The second two are somewhat intertwined. Cultural consistency provides the base of predictable and understandable behaviour between the members. This leads to increasing levels of trust (i.e. reliability). Of course, it is possible to have cohesion without cultural consistency, but that takes a great deal of work to build the level of understanding and tolerance.
While it may be unrealistic to actually measure comparative social capital between teams, it is easy to imagine that the team with the highest number of high-quality relevant connections will be the most influential. Okay, you have to take into account traditional sources of power too; however, the point is social capital is something which is easy to increase if you focus on it.
Here are a few ideas for your team…
- Put more emphasis on each member building wider networks.
- Prioritise informal gatherings for your team to get closer.
- Get your team talking about trust, what it means and how they can develop more of it.
- Build a team network map of the organisation and look for gaps.
- Create a team definition of a high-quality connection.
- Set network targets, perhaps even building these into performance reviews.
- Ensure all of your team has a positive attitude to networking.
- Bring in external speakers to share their views on building relationships.
- Invite other teams to your regular meetings so they can see your inner workings.
While we cannot yet quantify the social capital which exists within your team, the evidence should be in the results. The more networked your team, the more political muscle you will be able to exert to achieve your results.
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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