Sometimes you need to exert some influence in order to maximize the motivation of your team. But it is not any kind of influence that will work or have the same effect. You are the manager of your group or department because that position is delegated to you by the organization or you are the owner. of the company. You might be called a “formal” leader. But often, you will notice that other members of your team have the role, sometimes without their own acknowledgement, of “informal leaders” for smaller groups of people within the team. When you recognize these informal leaders, you can influence them to use their power and influence to enhance the results and productivity of the group. However, people don’t like to feel influenced when making decisions, so how do you do that?
I have recently read about this subject, and I found a method that really works. Michael V. Pantalon, in his book Instant Influence, is presenting a six-question model of influence to be used in your conversations with informal leaders. It is very important that you ask these questions in this exact order and not get to the next question if you don’t have an answer to the previous question.
Six-question model for positive influence
1. Why might you change?
2. How ready are you to change on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 means “not ready at all.”
and 10 means “totally ready”?
3. Why didn’t you pick a lower number? (or, if the influencee picked 1, either ask the
the second question again, this time about a smaller step towards change, or ask, what
would it take for that 1 to turn into a 2?)
4. Imagine you’ve changed. What would the positive outcomes be?
5. Why are those outcomes important to you?
6. What’s the next step, if any?
Although informal leaders are not designated by the organization, they frequently wield extensive power and influence because of their ability to help other team members satisfy their own needs and reach their goals. They ask the type of questions presented above without the conscious intention to influence. They are automatically sought out for advice and help when a colleague experiences a problem. They often are outstanding team members with common sense and loyalty to the company. They can contribute a great deal to your success when you delegate to them and help them develop their abilities even further.
Occasionally, however, informal leaders are troublemakers who seek followers to satisfy their own desire for power and glory. They may work against the goals of the organization. Still, other informal leaders are competent and possess a great deal of undeveloped potential. Whether they become an asset or a liability to your department depends on your ability to help/influence them find a constructive way to satisfy their needs for personal growth. Otherwise, they may become disgruntled troublemakers or may move on to another job in an attempt to cure a vague dissatisfaction with the work situation.
In a department or workgroup of any size, smaller groups begin to form along the lines of common needs and desires. You can often observe these groups during breaks or lunchtime. Workers enjoy being together because of similar interests, problems, work, or other factors.
You can antagonize informal leaders and their followers and see productivity sabotaged, or you can harness the power of informal groups to increase productivity. In an atmosphere where people are motivated to produce at their peak, a great deal of friendly competition evolves. Usually, 10 to 15 % of the people produce significantly more than anyone else because of their superior abilities. Respect and look to these outstanding individuals as leaders, for they are prime candidates for accepting delegation. Not only will they perform well whatever tasks you assign, but they also encourage among the other team members an attitude favourable to accepting delegation. Usually, though, especially with Positive Influence, these informal leaders leave with new motivation to do something productive, something that you are probably going to benefit from, but he won’t necessarily give you credit for it or acknowledge your point of view. In fact, if the process is working really well, whatever decision he makes is going to seem to him like his idea, not yours. He suddenly wants to come in early; he suddenly wants to get his work done on time; he suddenly wants to do his work before lunch break—all for his own reasons. He may even be critical of you for not having heard him out before or for withholding this great new solution that he has just discovered.
Because of the influence of this motivated informal leader, other team members are also willing to learn new jobs and accept new responsibilities. In contrast, people who feel mistreated and fearful may distrust high producers. They fear that management expects everyone to produce at that high level. Groups of disgruntled individuals would then follow an unmotivated informal leader in using various pressures to force the top producer down to a lower standard. Derogatory terms are powerful demotivators when applied to those who exceed group standards. One of the worst punishments of all can be rejection by other team members. In such situations, you need to identify such unmotivated informal leaders and find a way to neutralize their power or better positively influence them to become motivated informal leaders. The informal leader may provide inaccurate information based on rumours, and here is a good chance for you to positively influence that informal leader. You are a channel for accurate information and thus give employees the feeling of trust and security that they need. Those leaders may be people with high potential but whose basic needs and goals are not being met. As a leader, you are responsible for knowing these people well enough to discover their unsatisfied needs and helping them motivate themselves to become productive. Directing the energy of these groups into constructive work can turn the force and authority of informal groups into a benefit for the organization.
You can enhance your career success by reinforcing your formal authority with appropriate action to fulfil these leadership functions:
• Acceptance by the group – a leader is trusted by the group members to have genuine understanding and empathy for their problems.
• Risk-taking – a leader, takes whatever risks might be involved in expressing group grievances to management and seeking solutions for them.
• Communication – a leader contributes to the security of the group by providing information and positively influence the group.
Using these powerful strategies expands your positive influence and encourages maximum motivation among your team members.
Julian Medeleanu – LMI Master Licensee Belgium & Luxembourg
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