5 ways to become a better influencer

Written by Tom Perry on Monday September 24, 2018

‘Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.’ John C. Maxwell

One of the world’s greatest thought leaders on leadership sums it up nicely. Leadership is all about influence. Nowhere is this more evident than in the world of a compliance leader. Gaining support for a compliance culture and helping people see the benefits of being complaint will contribute towards the ultimate goal of having people within the organisation actually wanting to be compliant. The challenges are vast and the need for better influencing skills never more important.

Compliance professionals have become an integral part of businesses, and according to Robert Walters (Global Recruitment specialists) compliance officers are now ‘an important component of corporate governance, determining how an organization is managed, directed, and governed, including the relationships between stakeholders and the structure by which company objectives are set and followed’.

In order to fulfill this role compliance officers clearly require some significant influencing skills.

Unlike a CEO or CRO, compliance officers do not often have the luxury of being able to rely on positional power or hierarchy to exert influence. They are also often required to gain buy-in across the whole organisation and across all levels, from front line staff up to C-suite.

It is becoming virtually impossible to be a highly competent and effective compliance officer without the ability to influence others. Those who are able to influence within their businesses enable themselves to:

  •         get buy-in for their ideas and proposals
  •         obtain support and cooperation from colleagues across the organisation
  •         have a voice and get a seat at the table when key decisions are being made

So the benefits are clear, but where do you begin? Here are five key ideas to develop your influencing skills.


Start with yourself

How do you use the 5 minutes prior to an important meeting? Try using that time to focus on you, specifically, how you would like to come across and not just what you want to say. This time could be vital to ensure you make the impact you want and influence the audience. Remember the old adage, it's not just what you say but how you say it.

Ensure you are in the right headspace before you communicate, whether that is in groups, meetings or one to one. Do a self audit of how you are feeling and if needed adjust your mindset prior to heading in to the room. Ask yourself ‘how do I want to be?’ Calm? assured? Assertive but friendly? Ensuring you are prepared with the right behaviours as well as the right words could make all the difference in how you are received.


Give an upside

When positioning your reasons for taking on board your ideas, recommendations or proposals, consider providing both an upside and a downside to your organisation. ‘If we do this the benefits could be...If we don't do this the impact could be…’, etc. Balance your argument so your audience can see the benefits as well as the potential side effects. This may help to win some of the hearts and minds in the room that may not be won over with the upside only. If there are commercial benefits you could really be gaining support.


Know your audience

If you are facing a meeting, then just a few minutes thinking about your audience could have a huge impact on the influence you have. There are lots of articles and books stating this obvious point but what does it actually mean in practice? It means stop and think about who is going to be in the room, what you know about their motivation for being there, what you know about their preferred communication style and how you ensure you position your message in a way that will win both their hearts and their minds. This can be a 5 minute exercise and could pay off in the influence you begin to gain.


Link everything  to business objectives

Really understanding your business's goals, objectives and values can have a significant impact on your influence, especially when communicating with the wider business across levels and departments. Simon Sinek, a US thought leader and author advocates the concept ‘start with why’. In order to influence effectively ‘start with why’ this proposal, idea, compliance programme, etc. will support the aims of the business and align with the values you hold dear as an organisation. Once people have bought into the why, the how and what will become much easier to deliver.


Deloitte in their thought piece New horizons: Compliance 2020 and beyond stated:

‘Compliance will need ‘enablers’ with the ability to persuade, influence and communicate the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of compliance to the business.’


Your approach determines the response

How you approach and engage with your stakeholders will make or break your influence. A lot is made of how to influence others behaviour and how to get the response that you want. Goffee and Jones in their best selling leadership title ‘Why should anyone be led by you?’ used the phrase ‘Be yourself more – with skill’, meaning don’t lose sight of what got you here. You were employed because of who you are, not just for what you do. Do not feel you have to become someone else or adopt a different persona when fulfilling your role. Use the passion, enthusiasm and personality you have to win friends and influence. You do what you do because you believe in the difference it can make. Let people hear that and they will buy in to that from you. Importantly, add more skill to what you do to become an effective influencer considering the points I have outlined above. When you engage with your business areas, help them to understand the impact a great compliance programme can have and listen to their questions and concerns.

These are 5 tips to get you started; there are many more to help you gain greater influence and make a difference in your organisation. I’d really like to hear any your views on how to become a more effective influencer.



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