Leadership is more than just having authority over others. To be an effective leader, you must positively influence your team and the people around you.
You’ve probably worked with an influencer at some point in your career. They may not have had a big title or a lot of formal authority, but people naturally followed them due to how they communicated, their credibility and their reputation.
On the other hand, you’ve likely also worked with someone with a lot of authority but little (positive) influence. Others might follow directions to keep their jobs, but they rarely give their full commitment to the project or the firm.
Which leader would you rather be? The good news is that even if you don’t recognize yourself as an influencer, it’s a skill you can develop over time.
Why you want to be an influencer
For our discussion, being an influencer doesn’t have anything to do with how many followers you have on Instagram or TikTok. It’s about accepting the role of a change leader or change agent in your firm to drive innovation and make a difference.
Influence is the power to change or affect someone or something without directly forcing the changes to happen, and there’s always a need to influence others regardless of your role. When you need to rally people to work toward a common goal, get people to adopt a new technology or follow a new process, you can’t just have authority—you need influence.
How to develop the art of influence
Following the tips below can improve your ability to persuade others.
1. Work across silos and departments
Building relationships is key to becoming an influencer. You must be likable, approachable and trustworthy—not only among your immediate team members but across the firm.
IT people naturally have to know how other departments work and have more insight into the whole firm than just about any other group. Leverage that access by building your internal network and leaving a positive impression on anyone you work with.
2. Be proactive
Being proactive and showing initiative demonstrates that you’re intentional about your work. Don’t try to keep your head down and stay out of the way. Work to make a positive impact.
3. Seek out feedback
Seek feedback on your work from others—even people who are more junior than you. If you’re working with a group on a project, ask people to air upfront issues that they believe will stand in the way of success. This gives you a better understanding of other people’s perspectives and allows you to be proactive about overcoming those issues.
4. Celebrate small wins
Celebrate milestones along the way and small victories in every project. People crave recognition, so celebrating wins helps build confidence, leading to great things.
5. Build trust
Influence without trust is manipulation. If you want to grow your influence, be respectful and honest in every interaction. Honor your responsibilities and meet deadlines. This will create goodwill and make it easier to exert influence in the future.
You don’t have to wait until you become a partner, manager or C-Suite executive to start growing your influence. Getting a seat at the table often happens after you’ve already started to become an influencer in your firm, so begin building relationships and trust today.
Could your firm benefit from getting firm management and IT leaders in alignment?
The Boomer Technology Circles are a peer group of firm and technology leaders in the accounting profession who benefit from aligning IT and firm strategy and building valuable long-term relationships with solution providers and peers. Apply now to start building confidence in your firm’s technology decisions.
Marc Staut, Shareholder and Chief Innovation & Information Officer at Boomer Consulting, Inc., helps meet the growing needs of CPA firms by leveraging his experience to provide strategic technology assessments, planning, visioning and coaching. He feels that “technology should be an enabler – something that’s approachable, aligned with and integral to the success of each firm.” Marc is a regular speaker, author and panelist on technology in the accounting profession, cloud computing, mobile technology, leadership and vision.