The term “workplace leader” is typically synonymous with a position of authority. It might make people think of a manager, or perhaps a CEO, when they hear it. A high-ranking designation, however, is not the only way to gain recognition in your office! You can be an influencer without needing a title at all.
A workplace influencer is the most reliable person on the team. They take it upon themselves to create a healthy work environment, and are not afraid to convey their thoughts, whether it is an idea or criticism.
Anyone can be a workplace influencer, but why should you work towards it?
According to a Gartner study, employees want to “feel understood, valued, and cared for” or to be seen as persons and not just employees. However, not all organizations are able to do this. Moreover, in some cultures, employees tend not to question their superiors’ decisions, as it could come across as being disrespectful. Remote work has also made communication more challenging, and dissatisfaction is rarely reported, much less resolved.
As a workplace influencer, you can take charge of such situations, and build trust with both your team and managers! You can ensure that work goes more smoothly by easing any bottlenecks in internal communication, and in the process, get noticed for displaying good leadership skills.
With these benefits in mind, how do you become an influencer?
- Communicate with compassion. Make an effort to speak to your coworkers, and listen to what they have to say, be it a work grievance, or simply an idea they want to contribute to an ongoing project. Everyone wants to feel heard, and encouraging open communication in the office is a step forward.
- Focus on your attitude when talking to people. It needs to be apparent that you are paying attention. Your body language is important here – look at them while they speak, keep your back straight, and remember to nod and react to their words. Giving critical feedback is a great idea, but phrasing is a delicate matter! Make sure your advice is as constructive as possible.
- Build skills in negotiation and conflict de-escalation. As an influencer, you might have to speak to your superiors on behalf of your team if the situation calls for it, which can require persuasion techniques. Internal conflicts can spring up from time-to-time, and defusing them is key to ensuring a smooth workflow.
- Have a positive work ethic. This is as important as your communication skills. Maintain a schedule, finish tasks ahead of time, and contribute to meetings and discussions frequently. You want your work ethic to inspire your team, so stay on your toes!
Being an influencer involves making your coworkers feel included and represented in the office. In fact, research by Glassdoor found that less than half of employees think their company is diverse and inclusive. Advocating for them will push satisfaction levels higher, and a healthy environment breeds productivity.
At the end of the day, all of your coworkers are unique individuals with their own strengths and perspectives, and so are you. With faith in your own capabilities, you can bring about positive change in your workplace – and gain some influence while you’re at it!