Posts Tagged ‘women of influence’

The Job Coaches: Improve your influence skills

December 16, 2011
Do you ever feel envious of that successful work colleague who’s connected to everyone, whose projects and budgets get approved, and whose opinions are actively sought out because people want to know what they think? Don’t waste time being jealous. Instead, expand and improve your influence skills and abilities.photo

Whether at work or in your personal life, your ability to make an appeal based on logic, emotion or a sense of cooperation is essential for success.

Influence and leadership are related in that anyone, regardless of having a job title or not, can be proficient at them. Influence comes into play when you want to build relationships, secure support, inspire, persuade other people to champion your idea, or when you need to spark someone’s imagination.

People with first-rate influence skills combine interpersonal, communication and assertiveness abilities.

The intent of influence is to build a network of win-win interaction between people, not to control or manipulate them.

To determine how effective your influence skills are, ask yourself: Do I get results through and with people? Is my involvement sufficient to make something happen? Do I have the personal power to shape outcomes and cause things to happen?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, polishing up your skills in the following areas will help you increase your sphere of influence.

Become a perceptive observer. Watch what’s going on in your company or around you at home or with friends. Individuals with strong influencing skills examine, ask and validate.

Be knowledgeable and have a bias for action. If you want to have an impact on results, know your organization and its culture, as well as your job, inside and out. Be clear about what you want to achieve. Under-promise and over-deliver on timelines for getting things accomplished.

Be visible by engaging and involving others. Actively listen to what people are saying. People who have highly developed influence skills first pull people to their ideas, and then push those ideas to the rest of the organization through other people.

Be self-aware. Understand and control your own emotions and actions. Know both your limitations and your strengths, and then position yourself to maximize what you do best.

Give, give, GIVE! When you give, people will give back. Never underestimate someone’s heartfelt desire to leave a positive mark. Make your own constructive contribution while seeing, and appreciating, the gifts of others.

Cultivate meaningful two-way relationships. Help before someone asks. Say thank you. Be there when people need you. Be a broker of ideas and information. People like to be around those who make positive things happen.

Be sincere and authentic. Approach situations seeking to find a mutually beneficial outcome; avoid the “I win, you lose” mentality. Assure that your words and your deeds are consistent and rooted in goodness. As Herminia Ibarra, a professor at the Harvard Business School says, “Integrity can be a source of power.”

Ace these skills, and enjoy being called an influential leader!

Jane Perdue is CEO of The Braithewaite Group.The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Counseling Program. Ask them a question by calling 843-763-7333 or e-mailing info@c4women.org. If you would like further assistance, make an appointment; a donation of $20 is requested for appointments.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, December 4, 2009.

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What I learned at Harvard: Part 1

May 27, 2010

Jennet Robinson Alterman
Executive Director
Center for Women
Charleston, S.C.

Jennet pictured with Dr. Hannah Riley Bowles

Jennet pictured with Dr. Hannah Riley Bowles

Last week I was one of 60 women chosen to participate in a seminar on “Women and Power” at the Kennedy School at Harvard. Nineteen countries were represented. One of the 4 women elected to the Kuwaiti Parliament in 2009, the first year that women were allowed to run for political office, was in attendance along with the biggest real estate developer in Mongolia. We had a diverse makeup in terms of professional affiliations as well with several members of the military, both US and foreign, and the first woman chief of a South African Zulu tribe.

Hannah Riley Bowles was the coordinator and chief lecturer and she blew the top off the impact of gender when negotiating. She shared good solid data on how women needed to approach conflict resolution and how to negotiate for base pay and raises. She roped in some of the best talent on campus to share their research with us such as Iris Bohnet, the Director of the Kennedy School Women and Public Policy Program and a behavioral economist focused on questions of trust and decision-making, often with a gender and cross cultural perspective. Pippa Norris, the McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics had a wealth of knowledge on democratic institutions and cultures, gender politics and political communications in many countries. Andy Zellecke, a Lecturer in Public Policy is an expert on leadership and corporate governance. He helped us unravel the past governance turmoil at both the Red Cross and the Security Exchange Commission. Sara Lightfoot-Lawrence, a Macarthur prize winning sociologist, shared her experiences writing her newest book, The Third Chapter: Risk, Passion and Adventure in the Twenty Five years after 50.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, of Harvard Business School fame joined us for an evening. Her comments centered on the importance of confidence in creating winning organizations. I was truly honored to be in the presence of the person who coined the term ‘token woman’. Our last day, we were in the thrall of Ambassador Swanee Hunt, an expert on women in politics and dedicated advocate for women’s rights worldwide. She reminded us that every time we speak before a group, we are auditioning for leadership and went on to share her recommendations for finding one’s voice.

It was a whirlwind and the days passed quickly, but the themes became evident early on. Understanding the differences between power and leadership, learning how groups come to decisions, effective conflict resolution, good governance, and the importance of negotiation and presentation skills. All of these add up to the formula for becoming a powerful leader. As women, we need more nuanced approaches in order to succeed. We all have these skills on some level, but for one week I was able to operate above that baseline and learn what it takes to soar. I am bringing that home now and will look forward to continuing the discussions here at the Center for Women. I am interested in providing a forum for such discussions and ask anyone who is interested in participating to speak up now.

I also anticipate expanding our programming to include more learning opportunities on the subjects addressed at this seminar. We have the talent in this community to offer programs on how gender affects so many management skills. We also have the role models who can share their expertise in navigating the shoals of their careers. What holds us back from seeking power and leadership positions? Help me answer that question by sending me your thoughts on how we can position Lowcountry women to take their rightful place at the decision and policy making tables.

Why now?

June 27, 2008

I have the best job in Charleston. I work at the Center for Women and everday I meet great women who do awesome things. Starting this blog will allow me to share their stories. It will also provide a forum to talk about women’s issues and why we still have them.


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