The world of social media influencers might feel like a foreign land to anyone over 30 years old, but let’s focus on the word influencer with a small ‘i’. Who are the people in your life that lead you to make certain lifestyle decisions? Your spouse, parents, best friends, or personal trainer? Is it a podcaster you avidly download and digest once a week, or an Instagrammer who posts regularly on a topic you’re interested in?
We recently ran a webinar for a client asking them to examine the structure of their organisation to pick out the key people. The obvious response was to start at the top: the C-suite executives and managers. But when we asked delegates to identify the people they came into contact with day-to-day, and enabled them to work more effectively, suddenly the conversation was about the support staff, secretaries, IT technicians, the cleaners who went the extra mile, and the cafe they visited on their in-work days that was by far the best coffee in town.
In elite sport, the classic influencers are the physiotherapists. Remove the ‘physio’ bit in their job titles, and you’ve got a more accurate description of what they do. Lying on the physio couch, having your body manipulated after a tough training day, or straightened out and taped up in preparation for hard work, is where the phyios become the agony aunts.
If talking is therapy, then it’s the physio beds where it happens. They are key influencers in any sports team when in theory that’s not their role at all. If there is a physiotherapist who doesn’t have great rapport with athletes then there is a noticeable effect on team morale.
In my time on the rowing team, one athlete was noticeably abrasive. She could be a difficult person to train alongside, was egotistic and distrustful. She had to take a month away for an injury and virtually overnight the atmosphere within the squad was markedly better. It was hard to believe that it was just down to her but the day she returned – the mood in and around the training centre declined once again.
Conversely, there were athletes who weren’t as physically gifted as others, but they were people you always wanted in your team because they had such an awesome attitude. They made everyone else 5% better, just by the mindset they brought to work each day.
In the modern business world, employees at all levels should feel empowered to become positive influencers. Workplace hierarchy is increasingly fluid and in the best organisations we’ve worked with here at Kinetic, staff are encouraged to challenge up as well as down. All colleagues are held to account, can present new ideas and challenge established thinking. And to do so, it’s worth mapping the influencers in your workplace, and in your life.
Can you nurture the influencers to have a greater role? Why is it that they have a positive effect? Can you deploy them more effectively?
Who enables you to be more efficient? Who are the people making you feel more positive and optimistic after you’ve spoken to them? And conversely, are there colleagues who don’t inspire or motivate you? Can you minimize their effect on you?
Never underestimate the role of one person.