I find that at some point, the same realization occurs to many senior executives: it’s often more challenging to get things done the higher you are in an organization. Our expectation is that with promotions come more power and more influence—and soon we discover it isn’t quite that simple.
In some simpler version of our past, you might have been able to lead from a place of positional power, directing the people who work for you to do what you want, how you want it, when you want it. Today, in our highly matrixed and complex organizations, getting work done requires us to be connected to each other and the goals we are working toward in a totally different manner.
Since we depend on people who don’t work directly for us, we have to influence and lead with who we are, not with just our job title. Doing that takes having immediate credibility in almost every conversation, influencing people effectively without direct authority, and creating measurable, meaningful impact—we call this Connected Leadership.
The most effective tool to improve our credibility, influence and impact is one we all have and use every day – mostly without thinking about it: Our conversations. More specifically, the timing and the quality of our conversations. By timing, I mean having the right conversations with the right people at the right time. The quality of our conversations is impacted by our listening and the intention with which we listen; listening to learn something new vs. listening to defend a currently held opinion. With the right conversations, we increase and deepen our level of connection—connection to colleagues, connection to the facts that matter, connection to our goals and commitments.
I’m guessing right now you might be thinking something like: “That’s all ‘soft’ skills.” Well, if by soft you mean social skills—then yes. If by soft, you mean easy—ummm…no. In the words of a great client and friend:
“This stuff isn’t rocket science… it’s harder.”
– Jerry Jamison
VP Launch Operations, United Launch Alliance, retired
We all have habitual ways of interacting with others—some of those ways are really effective. And some of them have outlasted their usefulness. Gaining awareness about what’s working and what’s not—and then making changes to how we communicate, influence, and lead is challenging.
Each year we guide groups of seasoned professionals through an eight-month leadership development program to help them explore exactly how they can improve their own personal Credibility, Influence and Impact. The increased awareness comes from experiences in the program, the shared learning that comes from the community and from the coaching that’s an integral part of the experience. Recently, some participants told us about their experiences in Credibility, Influence and Impact—you can see what they had to say in the video at the top of this page.
This is not an “8 Easy Steps to Get People to Do What you Want” kind of experience. Instead, it is about personally exploring what it takes for you personally to lead authentically—in a way that leverages all of your unique talents and experiences. If you have reached a place in your career where you would love to make a greater impact and the ways you’ve been successful in the past seem insufficient, we’d love to talk to you about our upcoming Credibility, Influence and Impact.