Influencing Others

There are a huge amount of pressures on practice managers at present – CQC, New QOF, loss of the PCT and all the support they gave and getting to grips with how the new CCGs will impact upon the practice. The ability to motivate, influence and get people on board with changes is a skill they need to acquire very quickly in order to survive in the new world. The ability to influence others quickly and effectively will be invaluable in moving things forward.

Key Skills in Influencing Others

There are a number of basic  beliefs and behaviours which can help build this ability:

  • Knowing what you want and being confident that it is achievable
  • Personal credibility
  • Trustworthiness
  • Empathy and understanding
  • Enthusiasm

Knowing what you want

To lead a team effectively managers need to demonstrate that they know where the team is going through a clear set of goals and a clearly defined sense of purpose. This helps to build trust in the team. Clear objectives and a plan for how they will be achieved are essential. This needs to be linked with the personal confidence that the goals can be achieved. Key skills here include self belief, the ability to take considered risks and resilience in dealing with disappointment when things don’t go according to plan.

Managers need to get their mind focussed on positive self  talk and to recognise that our own “inner critic” is often the biggest  factor that hampers self belief. The other important belief that needs to  change is the fear of failure. Do we go for the Thomas Edison view:

“ I never failed, I invented the light bulb, it was a 2000 stage process”

Or the Homer Simpson view:

“Trying is the first step towards failure”

It is easy to see how avoiding risk or possible failure can lead to inertia.

Personal Credibility

Credibility has to be built and developed and it comes from a set of factors that affect us in differing amounts including:

  • How capable someone is in managing them self and their work
  • How positive you  can make relationships with others
  • Your reputation
  • How you use your qualifications and experience
  • Your experiences with others

In order to build  credibility you need to be in control of your workload and yourself at all times. Think about everything you do as an opportunity to grow or reduce your personal credibility.

Being Trustworthy

We tend to have a natural trait towards trusting people we consider authentic – people who are consistent and the same on the inside as on the outside. We trust people who have a clear and open agenda and who demonstrate a clear message through their communication. We often give out messages that are not consistent or clear. Some phrases that cause concern include:

  • I hear what you are saying but .....
  • With all due respect .....
  • I  don’t want to disagree with you , but I think we will find ....
  • She’s a really lovely person but ....

We can improve  our trustworthiness by being consistent in all our dealings with others and by demonstrating good intention. It is no surprise that we talk about “building relationships” or “building trust” – it takes a concerted effort and work to achieve these things.

Empathy and Understanding

Vital skills for managers – empathy is the ability to understand another person’s emotion and feelings, beliefs and values – without having to agree with them. Good influencers take time and opportunities to explore other people’s world with an open mind. This helps to generate trust and demonstrates an openness with supports positive working relationships.

Two of the key skills involved in this are empathetic questioning and active listening to people’s responses. How often do we hear ourselves say phrases such as:

“I’d never thought about it that way, can you tell me a bit more.”

“Can you explain your viewpoint in more detail”

“What do you think should happen?”

These all demonstrate a willingness to understand someone else’s  perspective before we make a judgement.


Being enthusiastic links with being positive and open minded – being open to change and  realistic in our attempts to control things. Influential people are often willing to be influences them self.  Everyone should ask them self he following question on a regular basis:

  • When was the last time I changed my mind after listening to someone else’s viewpoint?

A closed mind is a negative mind – one which doesn’t want to be pushed beyond its comfort zone. Positive people are able to deal with negative thoughts in order to allow more positive thinking – managers need to lead the team beyond the usual objections:

- We’ve tried that before
- That’s not how we do it here
- It’s just not possible
- If it’s not broken don’t try to fix it

The manager must influence the team to see things from a different perspective, to lose limiting mindsets and take action in a positive way.

The ability to influence others comes from these ways of behaving linked with excellent communication skills. All of them can be built and developed by a willing manager. Think about what you can achieve with a willing and motivated team compared with the effort required to constantly drag them along with you.

Thornfields@fpm deliver courses to help managers motivate the team. Teamworking in Primary Care provides managers with the skills and knowledge required to create and maintain a high performing team and Managing People In Primary Care focuses on motivating the team and the skills of effective leaders.

Contact us for details of these courses:

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