In a previous article, we shared about being flexible and adaptable, values that serve as a key to unlock the foundation for success for communicators.

Today, we introduce the concept of influence, as the lever that can shift mountains with stakeholders, for communications campaigns, in support of business goals.

The ability to sway opinions, guide decisions, and rally stakeholders is a power that should not be underestimated.

However, when a communicator lacks influence with stakeholders within their organisation, it can pose significant challenges.

These challenges are often akin to attempting to scale a mountain without the proper tools or support.

Two steps forward, three steps back.

In the absence of influence, communicators often find themselves in an uphill battle to secure support for their initiatives.

They may propose innovative strategies or campaigns, backed by extensive research and expertise, only to face resistance from key stakeholders.

This can be a frustrating and demoralising experience, as their efforts to drive positive change are met with skepticism or indifference.

Without influence, communicators may encounter resistance not only in terms of securing support for their proposals but also in the acceptance of their ideas. Even when their recommendations are well-founded and strategically sound, they can be overshadowed by louder voices or competing priorities. This can result in missed opportunities for the organisation and a sense of disempowerment for the communicator.

Initiatives require momentum to progress and succeed. However, without the leverage of influence, communicators may find it challenging to gain the necessary traction. Projects may languish, unable to move forward due to a lack of backing or resources. This not only hinders the achievement of specific goals but can also have broader implications for the organisation’s overall performance and competitiveness.

Another risk associated with limited influence is the potential for misperceptions and miscommunications to take root. When communicators are not empowered to shape the narrative and reputation of the organisation, there is a higher likelihood of external stakeholders, such as the media or the public, forming inaccurate or unfavourable perceptions. This can lead to reputational damage that is difficult to rectify, impacting the organisation’s credibility and trustworthiness in the long run.

In essence, the absence of (or not enough) influence places communicators in a precarious position. They are tasked with driving the organisation forward, yet without the necessary support and sway, they are left to navigate a challenging landscape fraught with obstacles. Recognizing the pivotal role of influence is the first step towards overcoming these challenges and unlocking the full potential of communications campaigns.


“Use the force, Luke!”

Let’s look at the opposite scenario. In an environment where the communicator wields influence, the organisation experiences a profound transformation. The alignment between messaging, strategy, and execution is a hallmark of this environment, ensuring that effort is purposeful and directed towards achieving the overarching goals of the organisation.

Ideas are not only welcomed but greeted with genuine enthusiasm. The communicator’s proposals are seen as valuable contributions that have the potential to drive meaningful impact. Initiatives, once introduced, gain swift traction.

This responsiveness stems from the recognition of the communicator’s expertise and their track record of delivering results. Confidence in the communicator’s abilities emboldens stakeholders to commit resources and support, propelling initiatives forward with purpose and vigor.

The communicator, in this elevated role, assumes the role of a trusted strategic advisor. They possess the acumen to shape the narrative, leveraging their understanding of the organisation’s strengths and challenges to craft compelling stories that resonate with stakeholders.

Navigating challenges is no longer a solitary endeavour. Rather, it is a collaborative effort, where the communicator leads the charge, marshalling resources, and guides the team towards solutions that drive progress.

Mutual respect forms the bedrock of relationships within this influential environment. Stakeholders, recognsing the communicator’s contributions, extend a level of trust and deference to their judgment. This atmosphere of respect transcends hierarchical boundaries, creating a culture where every voice is valued, and every perspective is considered.

Ultimately, there is a shared commitment to the organisation’s vision that permeates every interaction and decision. This collective dedication fuels a sense of purpose that unites the team, aligning efforts towards a common goal.

“Build influence, you can.”

The most crucial step for a communicator to gain influence in their organisation is to focus on building their credibility and expertise.

This process sets the foundation of a sturdy structure.

Communicators can begin by developing a thorough and comprehensive understanding of the business, encompassing its core operations, objectives, and the nuances of its industry. This depth of knowledge empowers the communicator to speak with authority and precision, establishing them as a reliable source of insights and guidance.

Remaining attuned to industry trends and market dynamics is paramount. This demonstrates a keen awareness of the broader landscape in which the organisation operates. By staying abreast of emerging technologies, evolving consumer preferences, and competitive shifts, the communicator positions themselves as an asset. They become viewed as strategic thinkers, capable of anticipating challenges and seizing opportunities, thereby contributing significantly to the organisation’s ability to stay agile and competitive.


Sidebar: The power of influence in an organisation   

The power of influence within an organisation hinges on the intricate interplay of social psychology principles.

One of the most potent drivers is the concept of social proof, as identified by psychologist Robert Cialdini. This phenomenon asserts that individuals are more likely to conform to a particular course of action when they perceive others, especially those they admire or consider authoritative, to be engaging in similar behaviours.

Within an organisation, this translates into a powerful tool for leaders, influencers and communicators. By showcasing behaviours and decisions that align with the organisation’s vision, they can create a ripple effect, prompting others to follow suit. Moreover, the principle of consistency comes into play – once individuals commit to a certain course of action, they tend to remain consistent with it.

In an organisational context, leaders and influential figures hold a position of authority, and their directives and decisions are often accepted without question. This phenomenon is rooted in the fundamental human need for structure and guidance. When employees trust and respect their leaders, they are more likely to comply with directives and adopt the prescribed course of action. This trust is built through a combination of expertise, credibility, and consistent demonstration of ethical and competent leadership.

Influential figures who extend gestures of goodwill, mentorship, or support tend to engender a sense of obligation and gratitude in their subordinates. This reciprocal dynamic fosters a positive, mutually beneficial relationship. Moreover, influential figures who actively seek to understand the needs and aspirations of their team members and align them with the goals of the organisation can create a powerful sense of shared purpose. By establishing a culture of mutual benefit, leaders can harness the psychological underpinnings of reciprocity to bolster their influence and foster a collaborative, high-performing team.

“Influence requires the following commitments.”

The strategy for a communicator seeking to gain influence is grounded in knowledge, proactivity, and relationship-building.

By fortifying their expertise, actively engaging in proactive communication, and cultivating meaningful connections, the communicator lays the groundwork for wielding substantial influence within the organisation.

Proactive communication: The communicator should not be content with passive participation; they must actively seek out opportunities to share their expertise. This could manifest in various forms, from contributing thought leadership articles to presenting insightful analyses in team meetings. By taking the initiative to propose solutions and offer strategic guidance, the communicator showcases not only their proficiency but also their unwavering commitment to the organisation’s success.

Building robust relationships: These connections serve as the conduits through which influence flows. The communicator should invest time and effort in cultivating strong bonds with key stakeholders, both within and outside the organisation. This includes not only immediate team members but also executives, clients, industry peers, and other influential figures. Trust is the bedrock upon which influence is built, and nurturing these relationships paves the way for future collaboration and support.

Cultivate strategic alliances: Building alliances with influential stakeholders, both internally and externally, can significantly amplify a communicator’s impact. This involves identifying individuals or groups whose support and advocacy can bolster the communicator’s initiatives. Nurturing these relationships through regular communication, collaboration on projects, and mutual value creation fosters a network of allies who can champion the communicator’s efforts.

Demonstrate results and impact: Tangible results speak volumes in establishing and solidifying influence. Communicators should track and showcase the outcomes of their initiatives, highlighting how they have positively contributed to the organisation’s objectives. Metrics, such as increased brand awareness, improved stakeholder sentiment, or enhanced customer engagement, serve as powerful evidence of the communicator’s value. This initial investment in building influence sets the stage for long-term impact and allows the communicator to become a trusted advisor to the business.

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