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Do you think your job doesn’t involve influencing people?... Think again!

In the first of a series of interviews with our top speakers from the Mastering SAP events back in May, I sat down with Greg Bayne from TLC Solutions in Perth, Australia. Greg works with senior and executive leaders assisting them to make shifts in the way they work, the way they think and the way they live their lives to become better leaders, colleagues and team members.

Greg, why is it so important to be able to communicate with influence in today’s business environment?

I think there are three key reasons. The first is that if you want to be able to lead people in a way where they want to follow you, rather than have to follow you, you need the skill of influence. With the younger generation coming through into business,

expectations are changing and leaders have to be skilled in getting people to want to follow them - the "have to" no longer works. It doesn't engage, it doesn't empower, and it doesn't get buy-in from people.

The second reason is that many organisations today are setup in a matrix structure. In a matrix structure you get better efficiency, outcomes, etc. for the business. It costs you less, but it requires a much greater communication ability, there's often a lack of clarity around who makes what decisions, and you don't have any formal authority. So, you can't tell someone to do something any more. In a matrix organisation all you can do is influence.

And then the last piece is that for many individuals, whether they're in a matrix organisation or not, is that they often don't have a formal level of authority, they don't have that power card to play. And they need to be able to influence the individuals they're trying to communicate with, to get what they want, because that's the only thing they can do.

How can influence be used when you're implementing a new technology, system or process?

In terms of any kind of technology, new technology, new system or new process, there'll be a couple of individuals in any organisation who are your innovators and your early adopters, but the primary challenge is the late majority and the laggards. It’s these late majority and laggards that you need to convince. For me, there's a few of things that can affect influence -  the credibility of the individuals leading the change, the credibility of the actual technology itself, and getting these people interested and curious in this new technology. And that's often the primary challenge.

Could you also use influencing principles to help in getting a business case for a new technology or system approved?

I think to be able to put together a really impactful business case, you need to understand the core principles of influence. For me, I use this little matrix of credibility and curiosity. For the curiosity piece, you want to somehow get your audience interested in what you have to say - creating doubt and generating a level of anxiety. So your business case needs to be able to put some evidence forward, or present something in such a way that your audience then has some doubt as to whether their current system or process is going to be able to deliver what they need it to deliver.

Often I observe that people approach a business case from a very left-brain perspective, so they go into the facts - their Excel spreadsheets, their little graphs, but it just doesn't do anything, it doesn't actually get across the line because they're not getting the stakeholders anxious enough.

If you can understand this concept of curiosity, and how to get someone curious, then you're much more likely to be able to engage them in that business case.

How influential are you? What do you use influence for in your own role?

A huge thanks to Greg for allowing me to interview him. Stay tuned for my next blog post in this series – Greg’s 5 top tips for high-powered communication and influence.

You can meet Greg, and become a master of influence yourself by attending his deep-dive session at the October Mastering SAP series in Melbourne, Australia - click here to find out more