The ability to persuade and influence others is an essential trait for any innovator. A leader must be able to successfully motivate and inspire their team to rally together, implement a new idea or achieve a common goal.
So how can a leader build their influence? We asked a group of successful entrepreneurs for tips on developing the power of persuasion. Here are the strategies they recommend if you want to become more influential among your colleagues.
Look for common ground.
If you want something from someone, there has to be a clear benefit to that other person. That's why Syed Balkhi, co-founder of WPBeginner, says it's important to consider the link between what you want and what they need.
"It's important to communicate openly and to really try and help the other party," Balkhi says. "When you find common ground and mutual interests, it becomes easier to influence others."
Listen before you talk.
Persuasion is not a one-way street, says Nathalie Lussier, CEO of AccessAlly. Instead of talking "at" people, you need to be a great listener first.
"By listening, a leader can better tailor their offer or product to their ideal clients," explains Lussier. "Everyone wants to feel heard, and when they feel understood they're more likely to come on board with your idea or project."
Get in the trenches with your team.
Employees expect a good leader to get their hands dirty and help out when things get tough, says Chris Christoff, co-founder of MonsterInsights. If you want to be persuasive, get on the front lines and pitch in when you're needed most.
"Make sure you're willing to dig in and help your staff when they need you, and you can bet that they will be there to support you during the decision-making process," Christoff says.
Paint a bigger picture for them.
Employees like to know how their role, no matter how small, is having an impact and furthering the company's big goals. To this end, Sara Bonham, co-founder of Perennial, advises leaders to bring everything back to the mission of a business.
"Paint a much larger picture of why this company was created and how innovation is first thought of," says Bonham. "Once people are sold on this, they will support the granular, tactical day-to-day work, as they know everyone is working toward a common goal."
Show people you care.
You might think you're showing interest in your team and colleagues by making small talk and asking how their weekend was, but is it coming across as genuine care? According to Joel Mathew, founder and CEO of Fortress Consulting, being authentic and going beyond surface-level conversation shows that you actually care what they have to say.
"If someone knows you care about them deeper than just a co-worker relationship, they'll go above and beyond to help you," Mathew says.
Back up your words with data.
A leader can always be more persuasive with people inside and outside of the company when they have data backing up their statements, says Chelsea Rivera, co-founder of Honest Paws.
"Staying informed on what has and hasn’t worked in the past in regards to projects the company might have in the works can help you determine decisions with authority, which also lets people trust your decisions," Rivera adds.
Ask for their input.
Ben Walker, founder and CEO of Transcription Outsourcing, says persuasive leaders understand that their employees are their best consultants. That's because they see what's really happening day-to-day within your business.
"When employees are given a voice and their opinions are taken into consideration by leadership, it creates trust in the relationship," says Walker.
Master the art of storytelling.
To truly inspire people, you need to be able to deliver a message that will resonate with them on an emotional level, says Nicole Munoz, founder and CEO of Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc. That emotional resonance begins with a compelling story.
"At the core of any good message is usually some type of moral," Munoz explains. "More than that, it speaks to the soul of a person by finding that common good. When you can use those elements to tell a convincing story, you are far more likely to persuade."