Wednesday, September 30, 2009

GHC09: Jo Miller's Person of Influence: Another Perspective

I'm so glad I got here early! The tables filled up well before the 2:15 start time, a common theme at this year's sold out Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing! While I'm not the official blogger for this session, I want to take notes - so I figure I can type them into my blog edit window instead of a terminal window and share them with the world.

Jo Miller let us know from the top that unlike other presenters she's met, she's quite happy with people blogging and tweeting during her talk. Right on :)

Miller starts off strong: if you want to be a leader, you have to be a leader! Nobody will ever tap you on the shoulder and tell you they think you should be one - you have to take charge yourself.

She notes that power & influence can be used for evil manipulation, but it's obviously not her goal to send us out of here as her evil minions :)

Miller notes that if you want to become a person of influence, you need to make the impression from the get go that you are someone that has something to say and should be listened to. As an example, she says that at meetings you should arrive early, be prepared with talking points and sit near the main group. Your behaviour teaches people how to treat you.

We broke off into groups to discuss people we know who are influential and try to figure out why. Only one person at our table came up with a fully positive person of influence. The rest we came up with had negative aspects of their personality, but we knew they could get their way when they really wanted it. This is distressing. I like to think of myself as a growing person of influence, but I don't want to be disliked for it.

Elements of Influence:

  • Positional Influence
    • This is the influence you get out of the gate simply by your job title and role in an organization. What this tells me is that no matter what other people say, title really does matter, though Miller says title is not enough alone, you need a 30-second "commercial" for yourself:
      • Name, Job Title, "I am responsible for...a, b, c" and "Come directly to me when you need... x, y, z"
  • Expertise Influence
    • The influence that comes from you background, qualifications, experience and expertise.
    • Make sure you don't downplay yourself, don't defer questions to someone else not in the room if it's something you yourself can figure out, promote your accomplishments and set up presentations yourself to promote your expertise.
    • Miller quotes a Newsweek article that women underestimate their own intelligence and experience while men overestimate theirs, which may help explain the promotion disparity.
  • Resources Influence:
    • Having access to the resources you need to do your job well, knowing how to best use the ones you have and demonstrate that you can do so responsibly.
  • Informational Influence:
    • You've got to try to stay "on the pulse" of the business, both personnel and organizational issues, but you have to be able to filter out the noise and the gossip. Doing this will help you make better business decisions and be able to change directions sooner when necessary.
  • Direct Influence:
    • You've got to be firm, professional and direct when you've encountered behaviour is detrimental to the team or organization.
    • BUT: this can't be how you run your team or organization or you will just have people that are afraid of you, don't like you, don't respect you and are demotivated. Miller recommends doing this for only the 1% of the cases, doing it in private, being direct, giving specific examples and giving the individual a positive vision for how things will change for them if they change their behaviour.
  • Relationship Innfluence
    • Knowing who the key people are in your organization, profession and industry and building a network of them.

Jo Miller put the entire presentation on-line!

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