Influencing: The new science of Leading Change

What qualifies people to be called leaders, at the end of the day, is the capacity to influence others to change their behaviour in order to achieve important results.

How to achieve profoundly better results in everything, by changing human habits that can be extraordinary difficult to change? The best influencers count on 3 keys to success in creating impressive and lasting changes in human behaviour:

1. Focus and measure – influencers are very clear on the results they want to create and are zealous about measuring it. Influencers clearly articulate the goal they are trying to achieve. Equally important is clear, consistent and meaningful measures to track the effort and hold people accountable.
Unsuccessful agents of change make 1 of 3 early mistakes:

  • Fuzzy, uncompelling goals: they begin with only a vague sense of what they will achieve (Empower our employees or Build a team).
  • Infrequent or no measures: even if they have clear goals they rarely develop credible measures against which to match their intentions.
  • Bad measures: measuring the wrong thing drives the wrong behaviour.

2. Find vital behaviours – focus on 2-3 vital actions that produce the greatest amount of change. Identify them by using the following 4 techniques:

  • Notice the obvious. Look for the obvious but often underutilized actions. Then seek confirmation of what seems obvious to you by an expert.
  • Look for crucial moments. Look for the 2% where you will fail, rather than the 98% where you will succeed. Use these crucial moments to inform the actions that need to follow.
  • Learn from positive deviants. Study the individuals who face similar problems and yet they have found the way to succeed.
  • Spot culture busters. Watch for behaviours that might be needed to break free of culture that sustains past problems.

3. Engage all 6 sources of influence – You have identified what you want. You know what behaviours it will take to get you there. Now you have to get the people to adopt the new behaviours by engaging all 6 sources of influence that shape human action:

  • Source 1. Personal motivation: Most influencers include this in their influence attempts. People have deep-rooted habits and they keep doing the wrong thing. To understand the personal motifs ask the question: Do they enjoy it?
  • Source2. Personal Ability: Just because individuals enjoy something doesn’t mean they will succeed. They have to have the skills, talent, and understanding required to enact vital behaviour or they will fail. When trying to understand why others do not do what they should do, ask: Can they do it?
  • Source 3. Social Motivation: Examine the social side of influence by asking: do others encourage them to enact the wrong behaviour?
  • Source 4. Social Ability: Others not only provide a source of motivation but they can also enable vital behaviour. To examine this important source of influence ask: do others enable them?
  • Source 5. Structural Motivation: What role ‘things’ play in encouraging and enabling vital behaviours? To check for this source ask: do rewards and sanctions encourage them?
  • Source 6. Structural Ability: ‘things’ can either enable or disable performance. To examine this source ask: does their environment enable them?

Whether you are improving customer service, engaging struggling students or else these 3 principles provide the foundation of all effective influence strategies. They are the science of leading change.

Bibi Martin from BM Interim Management

With over 10 years of experience in an SME environment, Bibi has been able to make a long-term positive difference in the professional lives of a number of entrepreneurs, business owners and senior decision makers by designing and delivering change programmes and expansion initiatives profitably. Bibi is described as an enthusiastic, authentic leader with a refreshing approach to delivering excellence in change, with ability to demystify complex concepts and make them practical.

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