Thoughtscape: Thoughts and Tips from Mike Clayton


Issue 6

  Top Dog:
How to be more influential at work
    News and views


  Dear %1
Raising your level of influence is often a matter of changing perceptions about yourself.  How can you grow in workplace stature, to get ahead of your peers?  Here are seven ways.

1. Posture
A confident posture is the starting place for taking charge  Stand or sit upright and face the person you are talking with  so they know they have your attention.  Practice controlling all of those little actions, called "tells", that signal a lack of confidence.  These include all types of fidgeting or shifting on your feet or chair.  All forms of self contact, like adjusting your collar, jewellery, cuffs or hair indicate nervousness.

2. Become an authority
This is not quite the same as being an expert.  An expert knows more than other people about something.  As an authority, you will be the person people go to for answers and recommendations - maybe because you are an expert, or maybe because you can evaluate what experts say or interpret it for the rest of us.  Cultivate the ability to see through to the marrow of a topic and ask incisive questions.

3. Focus
Avoid spreading yourself too thinly.  Have the confidence to know what your niche is and get yourself known for that.  Ironically, the narrower your focus, the more credible you become.  If you want to spread yourself more widely, find a unifying theme.

4. Silence
Cultivate the art of powerful silence.  When they stop speaking, take time to think through your response.  Your silence says "I was listening, now I am thinking".  Make them wait for you.  If they feel nervous and fill the gap, then your stature will grow.  When you finish speaking, stop and wait.  The more deliberately you speak, the more confident you sound.

5. Process
When everyone gets hooked up on a problem, a dispute, or a tricky decision, focus on finding a process that will deliver the answer. Leadership is controlling the process.  Set the emotional tone and establish a structure, and let the others follow your process to the answer.  They will sense you knew all along where they were headed, but were too generous to leap in and tell them.

6. Evaluate

Take nothing at face value.  Use your silences to evaluate what you see and hear and offer insightful feedback that says "I'm thinking ahead, I see further, I see deeper".  Congratulate people when they get it right and ask careful questions that probe gaps in their thinking when they don't.

7. Respect

Learn to say "NO" to requests.  This is difficult: you got where you are by saying "yes" and delivering.  Now there are too many calls on your time, and saying yes to all of them makes you a doormat, not a hero.  So practice making a Noble Objection and stay strategic in your choices about when to say "yes".  For more on Noble Objections, see Brilliant Time Management.

For more information
To learn about how to influence with integrity, read Brilliant Influence, published by Prentice Hall, and the Brilliant Influence Blog.

"...skilfully raises the reader's awareness and provides pragmatic, easy to follow steps to achieving brilliant influence."
Julian Badcock, Partner, Inpoint (an Aon company)

Lessons from The Apprentice

I have set myself the task of learning one essential business lesson from each episode of the current series of The Apprentice.  For example, paragraph 2 above was inspired by episode 2, from which I drew a lesson from Marcus Aurelius:

“Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself?  Discern its true nature.”

Don't worry - none of the other three so far have been based in the classics.  To read each article as it comes out, go to my blog or subscribe to my rss feed.

Here are links to the four back issues:

Apprentice 1: Failing to Plan
Apprentice 2: Discerning the essence
Apprentice 3: Negotiating Power
Apprentice 4: Relentless Focus


Issue Management:
A Matter of Discipline

Former colleague, David Weller, reads my Shift Happens! blog, about change, projects, and risk.   He asked: "Got any good tips on issue management? I see so many examples of how project issues are incorrectly identified, logged, escalated, allocated severity, given owners, tracked, date and time committed, and closed!"  My response was a two part blog on Issue Management. 

Read it here.


Stronger Impact

If you liked today's tip, then maybe I have just the event for you...

I am working with colleague Angela Marshall of Appearance Management to create a one-off event in October:

How to Make a Stronger Impact when Selling and Presenting

This event will take place from 9am to 1pm on 4 October, at Fetcham Park House in Surrey.  You will hear me speak on business influence and how to present a persuasive argument, and Angela will explain how having the right professional image and business etiquette will give a great boost to your profile.



You will also get complimentary copies of my book, Brilliant Influence, and Angela's book, Being Truly You in the men's or women's edition.

More information on the Stronger Impact website, or on LinkedIn.


Three hour Seminars
I did my first new Bite Size Seminar on how to Control Risk and Avoid Failure in Organisational Projects last week.  It went really well.  We are now promoting June and July dates for all four of my seminars - including the brand new Three-hour MBA:

Practical Project Management
Risk Happens! Control Risk and Avoid Failure in Organisational Projects

  • 14 June – Manchester
    Renaissance Hotel

  • 15 June – Birmingham
    Copthorne Hotel

  • 16 June – Oxford
    Cotswold Hotel

  • 23 June - Reading
    Copthorne Hotel

Brilliant Time Management
The Three-hour MBA

These are on:

  • 30 June – London
    RIBA in Portland Place

  • 5 July – Manchester
    Renaissance Hotel

  • 6 July – Birmingham
    Copthorne Hotel

You can see all of the dates on my blog and you can book by calling 01227 252100.


Brilliant Project Leader
Brilliant Project Leader is written and Pearson have designed the cover.  I am just doing the final edits, to get it to my editor by my mid-June deadline.  I am looking forward tremendously to the publication of this one.


Brilliant Stress Management  &
Risk Happens!

Brilliant Stress Management and Risk Happens! are both now in the proof stage - the first proofs arrived from Pearson and Marshall Cavendish on the same day by pure chance.  They are both looking fabulous and I confess to the sin of pride.  Publication dates are:

Risk Happens!
15 July

Brilliant Stress Management
12 August

My focus this year ...
... is on writing, responding to press enquiries, and new speaking engagements.  If you know a conference organiser who is looking for an engaging speaker with great testimonials, please do send them to my website:  If you need a speaker now, just contact me using the links below, or the contact form on my website.  You can download my speaker pack here.

Best regards


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Many thanks

    Please contact me ...
... Tel: 08456 441349
... on Twitter @mikeclayton01
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© Mike Clayton, 2011