Power Up Your Influence
Leadership is about gaining willing followers for a course of action. Influencing how others act, think, or feel is the essence of genuine leadership. Plus, influence is at the heart of outstanding customer service, exceptional professionalism, and enlightened management. So how do you bolster influence?
The quality of how others experience you either amplifies or interferes with what you have to offer in any role, position, or expertise. In seminars and coaching I encourage the cultivation of three qualities that - especially in combination - form a powerful means to build influence with integrity, while demonstrating reliability, authenticity, and meaning. These qualities are consistency, congruence, and coherence.
Consistency is about actions that are repeated time after time in a like manner. I’m not talking about mind-numbing repetition or creativity-destroying bureaucracy, but rather strategic actions for which you want to be known. What actions do you want to repeat consistently? First and foremost, those that reflect the best use of your strengths, talents, and expertise – sound professional practice, thoughtful decisions, exceptional quality in your product, creativity in design, a team approach – whatever best fits your circumstance. Second, cultivate consistency around a couple small but important actions that maintain relationships and help others: For example, returning calls promptly, greeting people by name, or giving honest feedback.
RESULT: Cultivating consistency announces to the world this is something you can count on!
By congruence I mean that communication, behavior and intention are in harmony with each other – that dress, manner, mood, facial expression, body language, voice tone, all match and reinforce each other. The common expression is one “walks the talk.”
Congruence occurs at many levels, for example:
The immediate present - does the cashier even look at you when he says have a nice day?;
Lifestyle - who doesn’t expect their personal trainer to be reasonably fit, or their financial advisor to make good money?;
Organizational - they say people are our best asset, but what is the company’s turnover rate?
RESULT: Messages that are communicated across many channels are not only more likely to be heard and believed, but will also be considered representative of the “true” character of the person or organization. In short, congruence communicates authenticity!
Coherence is perhaps the most abstract of the three “Cs” but is the one that gives the combination its power. Think of coherence as what is experienced when identity is recognizable and purpose is evident, so that actions over time tell a story.
In a movie or novel, various scenes and vignettes combine to create a coherent experience that has meaning, that makes sense. Likewise, when you are seen as a distinctive identity engaged in a purpose, your interactions with others create experiences that can be put into a larger, more meaningful context than the immediate circumstance. Your actions create a story, a narrative. Coherence is the ultimate quality that enhances a leader’s ability to communicate a vision.
RESULT: Cultivating coherence in your life imparts meaning for yourself and others!
The Three “Cs” in Action
Obviously cultivating consistency, congruence, and coherence goes far beyond first impressions – they contribute to lasting impressions you make in working relationships. The three “Cs” are evident in celebrities who have built personal brands by their consistent, congruent, and coherent careers (think George Lucas, Steve Jobs, or Oprah). Fortunately neither fame nor fortune are necessary to put the three Cs to work for you.
We see the three “Cs” in action with a merchant who focuses on community customer service, who writes emails to his patrons inviting them to friendly weekly events in his shop. He emphasizes the value of being an “independent” versus a “big chain” and creates a coherent local identity that becomes a huge customer draw.
We see the three “Cs” evident with the corporate project manager charged with leading a cross matrix change process. She emphasizes not only a consistent and congruent message about the change, but makes sure the team members become first practitioners. The change takes hold not only because it’s an idea that makes sense, but because of the narrative created about how well her team works together.
In a world where knowledge and choices grow exponentially, where the feeling of being trapped by over-commitments and complexity continues to increase, most people are hungry for interactions with others that are dependably authentic and meaningful. When you cultivate consistency in your core strengths, congruence in how you present yourself, and coherence in your actions, you and the changes you represent will be welcomed in to the hearts and minds of others.
by Tom Stevens (c)2011
Tom Stevens helps leaders create and sustain exceptional organizations. To contact him, visit www.ThinkLeadershipIdeas.com or call 800 727-9788
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