Twenty years ago a director for the company I just started working at said to me, “things are as good as they can get. The company is stable. Our job is just not to mess things up.” He wasn’t alone, that was the prevailing wisdom of the time. Get good at what you do, keep doing what you do, and don’t mess things up.
For decades this worked. Companies got good at doing what they did. They perfected. They found efficiencies. The professionals that came after them inherited cash cows. Life was good.
And then things started to change.
And they changed more.
And they changed faster.
Customers were more informed. Consumers seemingly became more fickle. Attention scattered.
And now, of course, the business landscape hardly resembles the business landscape of twenty years ago. Except we still carry some of the mindsets, behaviors, and beliefs from twenty years ago.
We know we need to change our long-standing businesses but, we don’t.
This is the case in nearly every industry. Especially in industries that have been around for decades and in companies well past the startup phase.
Within the company just about everyone sees the need for change. Usually, somebody has some great ideas for how to change. But they need to rally the team for action, but before they do that they need to be heard. This is where we get stuck. We need to be heard, and we need to inspire action. Action not just from direct reports because that is easy. We need to inspire action from peers maybe even those in the levels above us.
We need to influence.
Influencing is hard.
Influencing is a learned skill. One skill that most of us have not had to practice.
Professionals in all different industries, working in various professions, at many different levels share with me how effectively influencing is one of the biggest challenges they have.
Which makes teaching the art of influencing a big opportunity for associations. We should be educating our members. We should be training our staff. We should be teaching our volunteers and our boards. We should be teaching influencing skills at our conference, in our professional development offerings, in video, or books, or in training labs.
Effective influencers make change happen and make change stick. And change is exactly what we need right now.