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The Virginia Engineer's Guest Articles

Lead Your Team to Victory

August, 2006

Lead Your Team to Victory
The Do’s and Don’ts of Effective Group Influence

By Alan Vengel

Much of our work today depends on our ability to influence groups of people we lead or work with on projects. Groups are made up of many personalities, mindsets, motives and agendas—some explicit and others hidden—so having a specific strategy for influencing teams can mean the difference between success and failure.

Effective influencers have a good set of communication behaviors and know how and when to use them. They strategize which to use based on their assessment and the result they want. They are flexible in developing an approach and responding in the moment.

As an influencer, you assert your needs and make specific suggestions to others about how they can meet your needs. Influence is not manipulation. These behaviors should not be exercised aggressively, or else the team or group you’re seeking to influence may resist or withdraw.

To successfully lead a group or team, consider the following do’s and don’ts. These tips will help you to be an effective influencer and to prepare for the unique challenges you’re likely to experience when you seek to lead teams and groups.

Mentally separate the group.

Knowledge beforehand is essential to efficient planning. In order to influence the individuals in the group, you must target each of them before the meeting takes place. Think of the group as a collection of individuals, each of them having opinions and issues that you must seek to understand in order to influence them. Put yourself in each team member’s shoes and make some assumptions about what their main concerns might be so that you can create a strategy. For example, looking at individuals on a work team, you might think, “If I were