A few nights ago, I was a chatting with a friend who is very knowledgeable in his discipline. We will call him Bill. Bill was expressing some frustration that his company didn’t value him enough. “Nobody knows more about Marketing than me,” he stated. He was confident and he was definitely “right”. He went on to list his education, his accomplishments, etc. All the things that proved that the rest of the company should have deferred to him.
Bill is typical of many of the young, 20-something talent we are looking to hire. Motivated and energetic, they are ready to translate all their text book learning into being highly sought-after experts in their field. They are the future of business. They are our target customers. They often have the confidence that we wish we had at their age. How do we harness that into greatness vs. being frustration by their over-assuredness in the face of inexperience?
Here was my dinner conversation advice to Bill. “Bill, it’s not always just what you know, but your ability to influence.” This isn’t new or crazy advice. It’s probably pretty common sense to many of us. But the reality is that the ability to influence is critical. It got me thinking about what the key components are in today’s world to influence. There are many books on this, but I’m going to make just two brief points that can be helpful to consider.
It’s not rocket science. Each of us have probably had our Bill moment, feeling like we are hitting our heads against the wall with people that “just don’t understand”. However, take a step back. Take a deep breath. What can you learn from those people? Check you ego at the door and try to influence, not because you are right, but because it’s best for the business. It is sometimes hard to tell the difference so always be open to the possibility that you are wrong so you can seek the right information to either help you influence (data for example), or perhaps even decide a new direction could be better.