How to Leverage Your Most Powerful Tool of Influence Today
Your most powerful tool of influence is a pair of caring ears.
Today’s leadership challenge is the daily practice of caring – yet engaged – silence.
Caring engaged silence:
A caring heart is permission to lead.
More than ever, leadership is about influence, not position. This is an opportunity for those without position and a threat to those with it.
4 positive powers of caring silence:
- Caring removes condemnation from silence.
- Caring elevates silence from detachment to interest.
- Caring enables quiet to establish safe spaces for engagement and interaction.
- Caring instills boldness by enlarging the worth of others.
Caring silence invites, energizes, and inspires.
4 negative powers of uncaring silence:
- Resistance to influence.
- Skepticism as to motives. Silence with an agenda offends.
- Barriers to connection.
- Bitterness from speculation regarding your intentions.
Uncaring silence is cruel.
Disengaged silence makes leaders seem:
2 ways to practice caring engaged silence:
Complete silence is abdication.
#1. Get out of yourself.
Release personal agendas, results, coercion, and quick evaluations. Use silence as an opportunity to understand, explore, and embrace another’s perspective and agenda.
- Quiet your spirit.
- Honor the value of others, especially when they see things differently from you.
- Explore, understand, and embrace the motivations of others.
Connection emerges as you understand and accept what others want for themselves and others.
#2. Give voice to your heart.
- Reflect on and declare what matters most to you. Why do results matter, for example.
- Be transparent with your motives.
- Declare your intentions. The more I work with leaders, the more power I see in authentic expression of positive intention.
- I want to understand … .
- I’m interested in … .
- It’s important to me that … .
How might leaders expand their influence with caring engaged silence?
We should not be surprised that managers are overly involved in the work of their direct reports since employees become managers because they talk a good game and they were successful doing the work of their direct reports. Managers tend to talk far more than they listen.
In the article “Transforming the Engineer into a Manager: Avoiding the Peter Principle,” Civil Engineering Practice, Fall 1989, the author, Dr. Neil Thornberry a Professor at Babson College, asserts that young engineers are judged on technical merit and accomplishment, and that promotions go to the technically proficient and verbally expressive engineers, while less technically proficient and less verbally expressive engineers wait their turn.
The Peter Principle is “In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”
Dr. Thornberry found that for a group of engineers the MOST talkative, competent engineer gets the first promotion into management. The second MOST talkative, competent engineer gets the second promotion into management. However, the third MOST talkative, competent engineer makes the BEST manager. The BEST managers TALK LESS and LISTEN MORE.
Now let us presume that a growing company keeps promoting their most talkative competent engineers into management. What do we have? The best technical experts no longer doing the work and the best managers not in management and if they are in management they report to someone who is less capable of managing effectively–they talk too much and listen too little. No wonder so few CEOs have a positive culture.
Great post! I believe a caring heart is something people sense, and once they feel it you get voice, influence, leadership in their lives…
I also believe the opposite is true, so when folks feel influence without care (often called “pressure”) their “manipulation alarm” sounds..