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Our Favorite Book of the Month: STEP UP

STEP UP by Michelle Gibbings

Michelle Gibbings is amply qualified to write this book on how to build your influence at work. She has guided people on how to manage change for twenty years across multiple sectors and industries. She is an expert in leading organizational change in senior leadership positions stretching across strategy, compliance, risk and program management.

Gibbings believes you must have the proper mindset before you can achieve successful outcomes with your thinking . Since your past experience determines your decisions, you must question your assumptions that lead to poor judgments and faulty outcomes. You must beware of blind spots in your mindset which discards or ignores information when it does not tally with your view of the world. This faulty thinking can create faulty choice and ultimately lead to faulty outcomes.

Gibbings posits that personal integrity is of utmost importance in making proper choices and becoming Influential. You must continually reassess your behavior against your stated values and make sure they are congruent. People with integrity must find the courage to take a stand when things are wrongly done. Do not get trapped by the environment and come up d the lame excuse: “I was just following orders.”

The author stipulates that in today’s world leaders and organizations must be agile in order to make progress. If you want to be influential you must be decisive, disciplined and determined. The combination of discipline and decisiveness is powerful business and results in progress that is purposeful and planned. Finally, you need to be determined to get through even though you seem to make no progress initially. By being determined you will try new things out till you find the desired outcome.

As an influential leader you must have insight into what motivates people. It can help you lead and guide them through change. There are both extrinsic and intrinsic motivations and a good leader knows how t o use them wisely. The carrot and stick approach no longer works and people cannot be motivated solely by rewards and punishments. As an influential leader while you cannot change extrinsic rewards, you can control intrinsic rewards by creating a sense of common purpose and cooperation. Progress is a good motivator and a wise leader gets things done through his team.

Becoming an influential leader is all about building relationships. To build a genuine and authentic relationship, you must take the long-term view. Your interactions with people must be open-minded and open hearted. Behave humbly in a relationship and find ways to maintain it. Find ways to get people involved and learn to say ‘no’ when necessary. Be yourself and show generosity and gratitude for all that people share with you. Wish everyone well and don’t be afraid to move on when a relationship cannot be saved.

Getting traction and gaining influence in an organization is not easy and you need to build a network of stakeholders. You must make a structural approach to network management by using network analysis to identify gaps and areas of focus. In your network know the amplifiers and influencers and encourage and reward people who engage in healthy and effective collaborative behaviors. Actively facilitate collaboration across teams, business units and geographic boundaries, especially as they are critical to business outcomes. Finally, make it a point to always relate to your network from a position of integrity.

Gibbings book is well-crafted and incisive, particularly in its insight into relationships and networks. It will occupy valuable space in the management section of any reputable library.

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