What’s Holding Your Team Back From Building Influence?

I was on the phone recently with Holly Hamann, Co-Founder and CMO of TapInfluence, talking about how they have been building a thought leadership culture throughout their organization. Holly shared some of her lessons learned and then we got to talking about some of the myths and misconceptions that hold people back from taking their first steps to building influence. Here are some of the biggest:

Building Influence is Scary at Any Age

When new people join TapInfluence, they often shy away from activities like blogging and speaking at conferences. When Holly encourages them to put their own name on a post for the company blog, they are amazed and a little scared to take ownership of their ideas. If they are in their 20’s and 30’s, she finds that they adjust pretty quickly as they have grown up with the idea of having a following online. For those 40 and over, it takes a while longer to overcome the barriers – what I call the itty bitty shitty committee in our head that tells us we should not be standing in the spotlight.

We Can All Improve, But Get Started Anyway

One qualm that many members of her team have is the (usually unfounded) belief that they aren’t a good writer or that they would never be able to speak before an audience of their peers. Holly encourages them to start where they are and then offers the editing assistance or the public speaking training that will help them improve. None of us can start anywhere but where we are today, but we do have to start in order to get better.

Don’t Wait to Be Anointed, Act as If

If people are still holding themselves back, Holly reminds them that they don’t need to be anointed ‘thought leader’ by some mysterious other in order to get started. I couldn’t agree more. I encourage my clients to act as if they are thought leaders every day, and eventually they will be – whether anointed or not. Try out behaviors like relentless curiosity, engage with others who love the same things you do, tell a story (rather than only relying on data and facts) to gain attention for your ideas. This will help you stand out from the everyday behavior of putting your head down and just getting the work done. And it will be a lot more fun, too.

Start With What You’re Living Every Day

One of the best ways Holly has found to get people to become influencers is to encourage them to start with what they know best. She might invite a twenty-two-year-old new grad to write about what it’s like to work at a start-up while all her friends are off traveling to Katmandu and white water rafting the Colorado river. She could encourage a new dad to write about what he’s experiencing trying to balance start-up life with a new baby who never sleeps through the night. When we begin with what we know, what we are deeply experiencing every day, we come from a place of authenticity and thus are both more likeable and more relatable. We also never run out of material to share, as every day is a new day.

Integrate Your Activities Into Your Day To Day

Writing blog posts, drafting an OpEd, creating a new speech from scratch – all of that takes time. The key is not to think of it as taking time AWAY from your work but instead integrating it into the work. Holly found that she quickly burned out if she tried to add more hours in the evenings and on weekends to focus on these sorts of activities. Instead, she had to convince her team, and herself, that they could and should make time during the work day to get this done.

Influence is Not Just for the Marketing Team

One of the more pervasive attitudes that Holly had to overcome was that it was marketing’s job to build influence for the whole company. Thus, even when she started making time in her day to blog or speak at a conference, people assumed that was in her job description as CMO. Since they weren’t in marketing, they weren’t sure they had the same permission. On top of that, those who wanted to avoid the effort of building their own influence could use this misconception as an excuse to take no action. After all, those people in marketing are on it, right?

When We All Build Influence, Everyone Wins

Instead, what Holly advocates is that when everyone builds influence we all win. Not only do you end up having better writers and more effective speakers on the team, but they have all learned to better hone and distill their ideas. Internally, those skills might (eventually) lead to shorter emails and more productive meetings. Externally, the company is known as a great place to work and the company’s influence grows as there are more voices building into a chorus of positive messages and ideas from (and about) the organization.

Light Your Own Lamp, Then Help Others

Holly loves to amplify the activities of members of her team in her own social media or from the stage when she speaks and she encourages others to do the same. As each builds a bigger platform, they help each other to have a broader reach. This is true influencer behavior and if that doesn’t get you anointed a thought leader, nothing will.

What are you doing on your team and in your company to build more influencers? Share your comments and ideas!

Denise Brosseau

Denise Brosseau is a thought leadership strategist, speaker and the author of Ready to Be a Thought Leader?. She is the co-founder of Springboard, the women’s startup launch pad that has led to over $6.9 billion in funding for women entrepreneurs. She has her MBA from Stanford and was honored by the White House as a Champion of Change. You can find her at www.thoughtleadershiplab.com, on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

25 Questions to Ask a Mentor

Whenever I’m asked “What are some of the best questions to ask a ...

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

25 Songs For Your Leadership Playlist

What are your all-time favorite leadership songs — the ones that make you ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

100 Leadership Qualities

What are your leadership strengths? That’s a question I ask in a survey ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for ...

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Truly great leaders are hard to come by, but it seems everyone thinks ...

Unhappy at Work? Persuade Your Boss to Redefine Your Job.
Unhappy at Work? Persuade Your Boss to Redefine Your Job.

Every morning, Jonas backs into a parking spot at work so he can leave faster

If You’re Not Seizing Stretch Assignments at Work, You’re Doing It Wrong.
If You’re Not Seizing Stretch Assignments at Work, You’re Doing It Wrong.

These bonus opportunities have the power to boost your leadership cred and wholly transform your

The Case for Why Millennial Women Should Job-Hop
The Case for Why Millennial Women Should Job-Hop

There are strong arguments for and against the debated practice, but for millennial women, job-hopping

Infographic: How to Slay a Stretch Assignment
Infographic: How to Slay a Stretch Assignment

Recent years have been full of talk about how to elevate women at work. Have you

Panel Presentations: Does Speaker Order Really Matter?
Panel Presentations: Does Speaker Order Really Matter?

On speaker panels, does the panelist order matter? If you’ve ever attended or spoken on

4 Tips for Failing Forward
4 Tips for Failing Forward

After you make a mistake, it’s easy to focus intently on your defects. And then

Press Release: Be Leaderly’s Selena Rezvani Wins 2019 Croly Award for Excellence in Journalism
Press Release: Be Leaderly’s Selena Rezvani Wins 2019 Croly Award for Excellence in Journalism

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa—July 9, 2019—The General Federation of Women’s Clubs is pleased to honor Selena

4 Steps to a Flexible Work Arrangement
4 Steps to a Flexible Work Arrangement

Are you hungry for a little more flexibility in your day?  If so, you’re not

Dealing with a Bossy Coworker
Dealing with a Bossy Coworker

You might expect the occasional “order” or “command” from your boss. But it’s a whole

Press Release: Be Leaderly Wins Gold & Silver at the 2019 Stevie Awards
Press Release: Be Leaderly Wins Gold & Silver at the 2019 Stevie Awards

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa—June 11, 2019—Be Leaderly, a globally recognized provider of women’s leadership development and

Ask Jo: How can I thank my mentor?

Question: I have an incredible mentor. She ...

Teamwork is a Skill. It Takes Practice!

Everyone wants to lead, or be a ...

It’s Worth the Risk (I promise)

This is Sarah. She’s one of my ...

100 Leadership Qualities

What are your leadership strengths? That’s a ...

Leaderly Quote: Great Leaders Know When to Step Aside

“Great leaders know when to step aside.” ...

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.

Copyright 2019, Be Leaderly