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How to Use and Support Influence in Horizontal Leadership

Leadership tactics today to uncover the leadership of tomorrow

In the new world of business, leaders are no longer those who are followed. They are those who can (and do) influence the thoughts and actions of others to engage employees. This realization is the secret behind creating successful horizontal organizational structures, in which hierarchical authority is replaced by shared visions and goals. In this article, you’ll learn some of the tactics that help when leading horizontally rather than vertically.

The art of leadership has changed

Leadership in such structures is relationship-based, with people linking across previously recognized organizational boundaries. These relationships encourage people and teams to get things done, rather than to follow instructions blindly. Influence, persuade, and support become the watchwords of leaders, instead of control, order, and instruct.

To be a great leader today, you must engender trust. You must understand how to communicate effectively, and play the role of follower when needed and when others have skills that will aid the team in the achievement of its goals. Clearly, as well as leading, you must be able to support also.

Replace command and control with influence tactics

Old-style command and control leadership strategy is predicated on forcing your views on others. It’s a one-way conversation that prescribes ‘my way or the highway’. In today’s more informed workplace, conversations are two-way. The best leaders listen to the point of views of others, and become more informed themselves. It’s imperative that you show empathy with your colleagues, offering support to progress individual careers and group goals.

Use questions to elicit point of view, and actively listen to answers. Have a dialogue, and employ empathetic and balanced responses as you break down barriers and onboard your people.

Create a passionate environment with a purpose

Create an environment that encourages people to unite with a common purpose. If you are drab and dreary, or hold organizational objectives close to your chest, you will quickly lose the focus of your people. Be open and honest in your appraisal of goals, and share the vision and mission of the organization with your people. But do so passionately. Passion will enthuse your people about organizational goals.

Understand that lack of trust creates a leadership void

Collaborative leadership – the cornerstone of leading in a horizontal structure – is built on trust. It is the bedrock of successful teams. In his book, ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team’, Patrick Lencioni describes why teams fail because of a lack of trust. Distrust causes fears, which lead to avoidance of responsibility, commitment, and constructive conflict that leads to innovation.

You can only build trust by building relationships. You need to display belief in others and that you understand your limitations and vulnerability. This takes courage, and superior emotional intelligence.

Remove the fear of failure

People underachieve when they are fearful of failure. They shy away from taking risks, and yet we know that only by taking risks can businesses move forward. Every stage of the development of a new product involves risk.

Learn to trust your people with taking measured risks, as they discover creative solutions that promote personal, professional, and organizational growth.

Ask your people, don’t tell them

Instead of informing your people about solutions to problems, ask them questions that solicit their knowledge and experience. This will encourage conversation and collaboration of the creation of the shared vision so imperative for employee engagement.

Discover tomorrow’s leaders today

Organizations with foresight are uncovering and developing leaders across all workplace silos. They are doing this by encouraging today’s leaders to focus on the tactics of horizontal leadership. Collaboration encourages influencers to step up to the plate. Providing support and sharing power enables your leaders to empower their people with the opportunity to reach their full potential as leaders themselves.

Contact Forward Focus today to discover how growing your emotional intelligence will provide the skills needed to inspire a fully empowered and engaged workforce.

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