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The 5 Key Skills of Influential Leaders Within Every Organisation

Influential Leaders at every level in every organization cultivate a particular set of skills to enable them to move through the organisation faster and influence people outside of their remit.

We all know those people at work that appear to be able to reach out into their organization and gather vital information and find the answers to problems quicker than seems possible. They appear to know everyone and everyone knows them. They can travel further and faster, cutting effortlessly through the troublesome folds and fabric of organizational hierarchy and process in seemingly a blink of an eye. These are the influential leaders, the “travelers through space and time”, who are able to achieve and influence more than their position in the traditional hierarchy of an organisation would suggest possible.

But how do these individuals achieve this astonishing ability? They cultivate five essential skills and attributes that allow them to enjoy significant organisational reach and effectiveness:

1) Cultivate Your Personal Brand

Firstly, influential leaders consciously and proactivity manage their personal brand and reputation. Personal brand can be defined as “what people say about you when you are not there”. It is made up of a number of key elements from how you present yourself, what you say and what you don’t say, and who you associate with.

2) Be Positive and Proactive

Second, these individuals understand the need to build a strong reputation founded on great competence and a reliable “can-do” attitude. They fulfill their obligations, they act with positive intent towards others and the organisation. An influential leader is seen as a go-to, trustworthy agent that can help out others and find solutions. These attributes mean many others are keen to be associated with them.

3) Leverage Networks

The next skill which enables these individuals to extend their reach is their ability to leverage the power of their internal and external networks. They possess extensive personal and operational networks and they learn how to use these contacts not only for their own benefit but, more importantly, for the benefit of the team and the organisation. This idea goes well beyond being simply well connected on social networks such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with an apparent multitude of followers. Influential leaders really know people and people know them, which leads on to the next skill:

4) Make Time for People

They take the time to really get to know people and are genuine in their interest, making friends before they really need them, with these extensive, well-maintained networks they are able to cut through and across bureaucratic layers; making calls; meeting new people; sending emails and, most importantly getting the answers to key questions in minutes where others would take days.

An influential leader speaking at a meeting

5) Use Influencing Techniques

Finally, the oil that makes this network work in their favor is their ability to practice and deploy a number of subtle influencing techniques and behaviors. They are able to persuade others through the fact that they have a great reputation and brand and therefore people just simply like them and want to help them. They also understand the power of reciprocation and they will go out of their way to help those who have been kind enough to help them out.

No matter how junior they appear on an organizational line diagram, influential leaders are highly networked, inter-connected individuals that are essential to the life-blood of any organisation but especially in larger corporations. They can not only open up ‘wormholes’ in the organisation for information to flow more freely; they also provide the real conduits for entrepreneurial endeavors and innovation to flourish. These behaviors break down siloed working, join people together and work towards a more agile way of working.

If you want to become an influential leader in your own organisation, take time to carefully build your personal reputation in the business. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Have a close look at your network and ask yourself where are the gaps and how could you close them?
  2. Are there individuals you know who are well connected?
  3. How could you get to know them?
  4. What could you do to create situations where you have genuine conversations with people?

Ultimately, building a real personal and professional network goes well beyond simply boasting of numerous digital connections. That is where it might start but it really means meeting people, having genuine authentic conversations and making a quality connection. This will take time, dedication and a consistent approach, but it is always worth it.

If you want to be able to be your organisation’s Captain Kirk, take time to carefully build your personal reputation in the business. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Have a close look at your network and ask yourself where are the gaps and how could you close them?
  2. Are there individuals you know who are well connected?
  3. How could you get to know them?
  4. What could you do to create situations where you have genuine conversations with people?

Ultimately, building a real personal and professional network goes well beyond simply boasting of numerous digital connections. That is where it might start but it really means meeting people, having genuine authentic conversations and making a quality connection. This will take time, dedication and a consistent approach, but it is always worth it.

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Contact Ed:

Senior Consultant

Ed is responsible for graduate and youth programmes delivered in the UK and the Middle East and delivers on a broad suite of programmes for clients drawn from the financial services, energy and construction sectors. He joined IDG in 2011 and utilises his previous experience in Financial Services and the Royal Navy to design, manage and deliver on leadership development programmes.

Ed spent 14 years working in the Royal Navy as a Warfare Officer and later as a Staff Officer at the Royal Naval Leadership Academy where he designed and implemented a 2 week leadership development programme for Naval Officers.

Ed has a Masters Degree in Leadership Studies from Exeter University and is qualified in a number of supporting qualifications in coaching, psychometrics and leadership. Clients appreciate Ed’s authenticity and ability to get their delegates to challenge their own assumptions as to their own abilities and unique talents.