As leaders, we’re challenged to hone in on our effectiveness with the people we lead. Leading requires you to have influence over others.

I’d like to think that you’re positively influencing others, but we all know there are people who are in positions of leadership that I personally would not use the privileged description of “leader” simply because they influence in a negative and often manipulative way.

Anyway… I digress…

To be effective at influencing others, we must first answer the fundamental question, “What’s in it for me?” That is, what’s in it for the person you’re attempting to influence?

Ultimately, we’re selfish. And that’s a good thing. We want to make sure our needs are met before we can meet the needs of others (at least, we ought to be doing this to prevent burnout and the like).

If you want to influence someone, you need to answer these three questions beforehand:

1. What do you know that’s interesting to me?

Let’s say a client of mine, Silifath, is struggling to get one of her team members, Michael, on board for a new project. She hasn’t quite found the right intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for this individual.

What does Silifath know that is of interest to this team member? If she doesn’t know, then she needs to be curious, reserve judgement, and ask questions until she can find a common link.

2. What can you do that’s of value to me?

What does Silifath need to do to give Michael something of value? Is there a gap in what Michael needs to confidently contribute to the project?

3. How do you make me feel?

What emotions does Silifath consciously and unconsciously convey in her communication to Michael? What are the words, tone, and body language that she uses? Is there congruence between the three?

Have you had an experience like Silifath’s? What did you do?