The Six Influencers that Impact Your Success on the Job

Named by Inc. as one of the top 100 leadership speakers, Shelley Row, P.E., is an engineer and former government and association executive. Shelley’s leadership work focuses on developing insightful leaders who can see beyond the data.
The new boss had an agenda. And he wasn’t timid about expressing it. He’d gathered input from an array of people, except those his plans would impact the most–us.  Our work environment became much more challenging, and I learned how powerful influencers can be.

There are six types of influencers you should learn to recognize because in the course of your career, you are likely to feel their impact, even if indirectly (i.e. through how your boss chooses to lead.)  Learn now how to understand their background and makeup, perspective and outlook, and plans and agendas. 

Influencer 1:

The ones who help your organization exist.  Does your organization rely on public funding? Are you in public sector leadership and need legislated funding? You may think your Congressperson is the main influencer, but it’s more likely the aide who writes the text. Get to know him or her to learn their perceptions and what approach best aligns with their work style. 

In the private sector, while all clients are important, some have an extra-large impact on your business (i.e. with income/opportunities/long-term relationship.) Are you getting to know them? Are you vested in their success?

In the private sector, while all clients are important, some have an extra-large impact on your business.
Influencer 2: The organizations and associations in your industry.  These groups, with their executive directors, board chairs and members often deal with key issues. Stay connected and learn what their agendas imply for your company or job.

Influencer 3:

Movers and shakers in your industry. These are the stand-out professionals who become known for their excellent work and thought leadership. (They can often be found on association boards and/or the speaking circuit.)  Consider why they pack a room. What are their thoughts on the future of your industry? Can you get to know them in some way, if you don’t already?

In addition to the above three general influencers, consider the following who likely have direct impact on your boss:

Influencer 4:

The ones who work outside your organization but have your bosses’ ear.  What are they telling him? How are they shaping his perspective?

Influencer 5:

Your boss’s inner circle of advisors.  It’s likely your boss has a trusted circle in or outside your organization.  Who are they? What kind of people are they?

Influencer 6:

The ones your boss tries to impress.  All bosses want to look good in front of someone. Who is it? An individual? A board or council? The public? Why is that audience important to your boss?

Understanding six influencers may sound like a lot of work. But I’ve found that even a little knowledge goes a long way.  Apply these three steps to each set of influencers:

  1. Take inventory to identify the key players in each category.
  2. Assess which of the influencers have the biggest impact.  Look at them more deeply.
  3. Consider what those perspectives mean to you and your part of the organization.

This exercise will give you the context you need to more effectively interact with your boss and his/her influencers, adapting accordingly. You’ll find it’s worth the effort.

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