On July 8th 2012, Opening Ceremony of LSS 2012 in Budapest welcomed Steve Mellau as guest Speaker. Steve Mellau is Executive Coach of HRO Consulting, Senior Trainer and Visiting Professor at Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade. He spoke about Leadership and the importance for young people to learn Leadership related skills during studies or at the dawn of their professional careers.
Steve’s keywords according to leadership or every life situation are: questioning and listening. The talk was thus open for questions, opportunity used by one of the participants to ask: “what is the most important Leadership skill?”
Before answering, our Speaker bounced back the question to the audience. We heard elements such as Communication, Motivation, Presentation skills, Persuasion, Planning… Then came his answer: “Influence!” Steve’s sentence was close to the quote from Kenneth Blanchard illustrated on the picture opening this post.
Compiling several dictionaries, influence is defined as the power to affect persons or events without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command. Influence must have some effects on people and/or events, inducing a change in actions, feelings, thoughts and sometimes beliefs.
When starting a career, one is expecting to be the listener, to learn fast, to ask questions, sometimes, though not much to question what is requested from hierarchy. This is normal in most places though how long the status of “freshman” or “newbie” should last? There will be time when one will have suggestions, ideas or proposals to submit while not having the hierarchical clearance to implement them. How to make your superiors, colleagues, clients follow you?
There are many elements related to influencing others. Influence is about change as the people or the chain of events affected will be in a different setting than initially planned. One should also take into account who is the audience, what is the current context in your unit, department or company. It is also about persuasion; suggested course of actions work in audience/company’s best interest first. To influence someone and lead a group to a place members may not have gone by themselves, one must improve communication and understanding; one must win their adhesion. Relationship will be stronger if a group is lead without being commanded or forced.
This specific question and answer opened the door for participants to take full advantage of the project with practical testing and application throughout the event with inputs from trainers, peers and supporting companies.