How To Influence And Lead At Work: Getting What You Want

Published on February 27, 2011 by

Our careers are important for many reasons. We spend a great deal of our life at work and it represents an investment of our talents, passions and desires to make a contribution. If you are like most people, you want to do work that is meaningful and that allows you to make a difference. It's not all about the money.

In order to make a contribution and to find our work rewarding, we need to enlist the support and cooperation of those around us, especially those on our team. In short, we have to be able to get what we want (and need) from different people; especially our coworkers and our boss. If that sounds crass, I'm sorry, but that's real life.

Are you getting what you want at work? It's a simple question, but not always simple to pull off. Yet the fact is we will never be more successful than our ability to influence, persuade and lead those around us. Fortunately, there is and art and science to influencing others at work. Or at home for that matter, but for now, let's focus on the workplace.

Here is an ageless principle you can tap into to make sure you are getting more of what you want from others:

Position what you want in a way the other person can see how it will benefit them.

There is a simple reason for that: We are all motivated by what we want, not by what someone else wants; unless the two intersect. Now before you think I'm discounting those who like to please others or who value being a team player or value being a "giving" person, think of this:

The person who loves to "give" to others is still motivated by their desire to do what makes them feel good. The fact is we feel good when we live in a manner consistent with our values. So, the ones who consistently think of what others want and how they can help them end up benefiting from feeling good by helping others.

The bottom line? When you ask someone to do something, they will gladly do so as long as they see how it will benefit them. Even if it's just the fact they will feel good by doing something for you.

Whatever the motivation, it's your job to help them see the "What's In It For Me?" If you are successful in doing that, you will get what you want. If you are unsuccessful in doing that, you will fail to get what you want from them. If you are frustrated because you're not getting what you want and need from your coworkers or your boss, remind yourself of the "What's In It For Me?" factor.

Everyone has their heart and mind tuned into the radio station WIIFM.

Make sure you are broadcasting on that station.


  1. [...] How to lead. [...]

  2. Susan

    What if you have workers that just don't wont to do the job right.

    • Alan Allard

      Susan, thanks for a great question. To answer the question fully, I would need to know more, but here are some possibilities: Is the problem a matter of "Skill" or "Want to"? Do they have the skill but not the motivation--or the motivation but they are lacking in skill? If it's a matter of motivation, unless your company has built in negative consequences for under-performing--and built in positive consequences for performance improvement, it can be very difficult to effect change. All motivation is unique to the individual and it has to come from within. Coaching is about helping someone get clear on what they want (and why they want it) and helping them to get what they want. If you have enough rapport with an employee and help them to find their own reasons for doing better work, then you have a foundation to build on.

      Do you manage these employees?

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