The Currency of Influence

On Thursday, October 19, 2017, the Women in Big Data Forum met in San Francisco’s hip SOMA district for an evening dedicated to “The Currency of Influence”. This soft-skills workshop was led by Sharon Stolt of Constellation Leadership Solutions. Heavybit Industries generously donated space for this event, and food and drinks were sponsored by Heroku, a Salesforce product.

Cynthia Kaschub, Intel Corporation

Women in Big Data Forum leadership team member Cynthia Kaschub, Intel Corporation, kicked off the event by welcoming participants and highlighting the many opportunities to deepen their involvement in WiBD, from joining a committee…to running a training…to sponsoring an event.

During the workshop, Sharon defined influence as the power to change or affect someone or something. Sharon challenged each of us to reflect on an influence situation we were facing in their own work life. Throughout the night, our pitch would be refined and honed by practicing with partners. Each pitch round gave us opportunity to add the new skills we learned in the workshop.

Sharon Stolt, Constellation Leadership Solutions

Sharon took us through an influencing approach (outlined below) inspired by Cohen and Bradford’s seminal work, Influence Without Authority. .

  • Start with a Positivity Bias: Take a deep breath and picture those whom you need to influence as allies. This increases the likelihood that you’ll devise an influence strategy that gets the results you want and gets closer to a win-win outcome for both of you.
  • Clarify Your Goals: Get clear on what, specifically, you want to achieve. Answer the question: What would success look like? Without understanding success, it’s hard to know what influence strategy to take!
  • Appraise Your Audience: Whom do you need to influence, and what forces are shaping their goals, concerns, and needs?
  • Identify Your Currency: The six instruments of influence, identified by Robert Cialdini in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion are: Reciprocity, Congruence, Social Proof, Liking, Authority, and Scarcity. Understanding each of these can help you identify which ones you have at your disposal. Look carefully: you may have several you can deploy. Participants spent a lot of time here examining how some of these currencies work together naturally: for example, when the expertise you have to offer (Authority) is also unique or rare in your organization (Scarcity). Learn more about each of these currencies at https://www.influenceatwork.com/principles-of-persuasion.
  • Carry Yourself with Confidence: Practicing what you’re going to say is only part of how you should prepare your influencing pitch. How you say it matters, too – and when our nonverbal communication is out of sync with our words, it’s the nonverbals that people believe. Our final practice pitches were lively and loud as each person pitched from their preferred “power pose.”

The workshop setting, small and intimate, set the stage for some insightful conversations about how to leverage influencing skills to be more successful in our work. I, personally, left the night continuing to think about the currencies; some were new to me and others I had been employing for a while but didn’t have a title for them. I now have a new toolkit that includes instruments of influence, and I will have these tools to grab when I need them.

A big thank you to Regina Karson and Fauzia Chaudhry from Women in Big Data for helping set up, register attendees and wrap up the event!

For a copy of the slide deck, click here.

To learn more about Sharon’s team effectiveness workshops, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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