Revealing Your Hidden Super Power: 3 Steps To Significantly Improve Your Effectiveness Through Influence

Ron Skillens

Senior Vice President, ERM and Chief Compliance Officer at JPS Health Network

Learning Objectives

The focus of this webinar is to provide a 3 step framework for financial leaders to assess and grow their organizational influence to significantly enhance their persuasive effectiveness and advance their career as an executive and thought leader. We will discuss influence from a finance perspective and provide practical short and long term strategies that can be implemented even in the context of a challenging economic environment.

Key Takeaways:

  • Assess your current style and level of influence and develop a plan

  • Implement practical short- and long-term influencer strategies

  • Evaluate the growth of your influence over time through key metrics

"On the other side of your comfort zone is where success is, and that means that that fear is going to be there. We have to push through it."

Ron Skillens

Senior Vice President, ERM and Chief Compliance Officer at JPS Health Network


Hello, and welcome. My name is Ron Skillens and I am the Senior Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer at JPS Health Network in Fort Worth, Texas. JPS is a hospital system serving the Tarrant County area in Fort Worth. And I’m responsible for internal audit compliance and enterprise risk management. I’ve had a very interesting career over 25 years. As in finance, I’m a CPA, I am, I’ve been an external auditor, I’ve been a management consultant partner. And as I said, a healthcare executive. And I’m really excited about this topic today, because it is a topic that I don’t think gets enough airtime. I think we all know how important influence is in what we do every day. But But I just have never seen a lot of intentional discussion about how we as finance professionals, and leaders in general, can leverage it in a strategic way, in an authentic way without feeling kind of like a used car salesman. Right. So Well, let me share my screen and we’ll get started. So the title for the presentation is revealing your hidden superpower three steps to significantly improve your effectiveness through influence, because I believe that influence is a superpower that that we all know that we have that very few master. So the learning objectives for this webinar is one to assess your current style and level of influence and actually develop a written influencer plan number to implement practical short term and long term influencer strategies. and evaluate number three, the growth of your influence over time through key metrics, you know, we’re finance people are our, you know, black and white or numbers oriented. And so I have some, some metrics of how do you know that your, your influence is growing. So really excited about getting started. So as I said, I gave you my background already, I’m also a speaker. I want to start with a cautionary tale. It was the summer of 2009. And it was during the time that the world was gripped in recession and depression. And at the time, I was a partner at an international firm responsible for audits, Internal Audit Services, and Sarbanes Oxley services for for the Dallas office. And I had to unfortunately, let go of most of my all of my people during that period of time, because business was just non existent. Does that sound familiar? And I had gotten to where I, I was through influence I had done all the right things I felt I felt I joined the right associations, I had went to the right social events, I had worked long hours, I had gotten my certifications, I have, you know, spent all the time and effort to get to where I was. And for an accountant, being a partner is such a pinnacle of your career that I felt like I had arrived. And I had arrived. Because I believe I had good relationships is another another way of looking at influence. But when I also learned that I was being laid off for the same reasons, it really, it was shocking and jarring because, you know, it was it was something that I didn’t expect, but I should have. And so I believe that all professionals, particularly finance professionals, should, can master the power of influence. And this is the big why of why I’m so passionate about this topic.

So from

an important standpoint, for influence for finance executives, there are a number of reasons that I’ve some of which I’ve listed here of why this is important for finance executives, financial projections and strategies. All of these are explanations. All of these require influence budget presentations to the executive board presentations, audit findings, conference calls with Wall Street analysts that could impact the share price, various business deal negotiations, m&a, government audits and inquiries and many, many more. And so there there is practical application that that we all can get better with influence to make outcomes make our outcomes and success in each of these areas better. So, why do many finance leaders find it difficult to develop influence and I developed this slide really thinking of love myself, but also in talking with a number of finance leaders and what What feedback they gave me and there’s a couple here that I want to land on. And one is, the first one is I became a finance person because I didn’t want to sell I didn’t want to be the person to, to you know, ask for the deal and to close to be a closer I wanted to, to, to do the numbers and do the math and do the projections. Another one is, you know, I’ve you influence as being manipulated. Millett, manipulative, or playing politics, right. Being inauthentic In other words, right. And being a being in this feeling, just kind of not ourselves, and I just didn’t want to feel that. And then the last one is my favorite introvert, introverted and believe influences have to be extroverts. Now, how many of us all have felt that way? I’m have always been an introvert, I’ve had to learn to be more extroverted over time, but there are many people and successful, you know, public figures and others that are introverts and this it is a skill like anything else. And so what I would, what I would say to you is that all of these are false beliefs, that if we if done in a proper way, that influence can be is is being strategic as opposed to being manipulated. So what I want to prepare, what I prepared is a framework a, what I call the career influencer framework, it’s a name that I came up with for three steps that I’ve used over my 25 year career to grow my influence in a in a more authentic way. And so we’re going to step through these and and provide some insights and how you can do the same. So the first is empower, empower deals with mindset, it deals with assessing your current state. Number two is execute what

specific actions

both short term and long term Do you need to be focused on to grow your influence? And then number three is evaluate, you know, we we as finance, accounting, people love to keep score. And so I have a framework of what metrics Do we need to look at to evaluate that we’re making progress rather than this funny slide, we have to have courage. You know, influencer requires courage regardless of what role that we’re in as leaders, we’re all put in a position that we have to put our ideas out there. And that’s put makes us vulnerable. But a mentor of mine had told me and I’ve always remember this is that, that our success, my success, your success is on the other side of your comfort zone. On the other side of your comfort zone is is where success is. And that means that that fear is going to be there, we have to push through it. And so I would encourage us all to take a step closer and beyond our comfort zone. So the first step is empower, cultivate a confident mindset. And what does that mean? And I’m like, you might be sitting there thinking, Well, I have confidence. I don’t need to be lectured on this. Well, you know, we all have stuff, we all have things that happen to us every day, do we not that that can rock our confidence? I know I do, right. And so thinking of thinking of legitimate strategies that you can put forward to build your confidence is it I think, is a key key key thing and a key foundation. So this a couple of things I would point out, reflecting on past accomplishments, if I’ve done it before, I can do it again. So all the success that you’ve had before, knowing that you can do it again, even if even if you don’t know the how of how it’s going to get done, you can figure it out and being confident that you will be able to figure it out. Identifying and eliminating limiting beliefs. This is a big one for me, we all have limiting beliefs. Some of those were on the previous slide of what we believe, influences for example, protect your competence at all costs. And this is the one I’ll land on. There are so many naysayers out there, there’s so much negative news, there’s so much thing, so many things out there that can they can chip away at our confidence. And so, you know, and so protected as as the valuable asset that it is because how many times it How many times have you accomplished all those great things that you’ve done in your career, and you’ve had low energy you have you’ve had low confidence, right? In most cases, you have had high energy and high confidence when you’ve been your best self, your best version of yourself. And so, I didn’t want to go into this without addressing the mindset piece because that is such a vital piece because we are we are all impacted day by day with this and so, think through that. The second is empower assess your style. So, there are a variety of influence or styles. And the five here come from the influence style indicator by discovery learning. And there are various others but this is a good construct to understand style. So there are five types of styles. So the assertive type person who insists on their ideas being heard and challenging ideas of others, the convincing person who puts forward ideas in a logical, rational way, and tries to convince others to come to their point of view. This is the one that that I gravitate toward the negotiator, right, the person who looks for compromises the grid, The Statesman that makes concessions to reach a middle ground, the Bridger to build relationships and connect with others through listening and understanding and building coalitions. And they inspire the person who advocates their position and encourages others to come on board through, you know, very inspirational language. And so what I would say to you is think about which of these five is your primary influence or style, I know, we all can be any one of these five at any given point in time, but think about what your primary one is on a regular basis, because that’s the beginning step to assessing your current state in terms of how you need to adjust in dealing with other people. And then, as we look at what an influencer plan looks like, now, this is a document right? So this would be something that you would you would sit down and just like you prepare your budget for your division, or you put together your strategic plan, this is your personal strategic plan of influence. And so this is a document so you have in the in the document, you would have an identification of your audience. So who are your stakeholders that you’re trying to influence? research? Who they who those folks are within the company, or even outside the company, if you’re doing a deal?

You know, what are their pain points? What’s been their history? Do you know people who know them that you can talk to understand a little bit more about them? And then this concept of who your dream stakeholders dream stakeholders are, are people who you aspire to get to know you may not know them? Currently, you may have you may not have relationships with with them, they might be the CEO or the CFO, or others. But who are who are they? And how can you get to know them? Secondly, assess your relationship status. So we’re Where are you with, with each of these people that you listed in the first section? Do you know them? How well do you know them? You know, how can you get to know them better. Third, is determine what’s in it for them. People really care about what’s in it for them the benefit that they would have to what you’re proposing your project your idea, and thinking about what’s in it for them and stepping into their shoes, to understand, you know how to how to best position your idea. And then lastly, decide on your influencer style that you’re going to use that would be most effective for the audience that you’re trying to, to influence. And so as we talked about, there are five styles in that particular assessment. So if you’re a, for example, a negotiator and you’re dealing with a person who is assertive, then how do you need to adjust to best Connect? I know I’ve worked with a number of leaders that have different styles, I’ve worked with an inspirational CEO who is a hugger, or when we could hug. And is, is really more concerned about the relationship and the person and how something feels and how something looks right. And so presenting to him a 50 page, PowerPoint deck with a lot of details and facts and figures, is not a way to convince them of anything is not a way to be compelling. And so have I had to adjust based upon his style. So think through what those elements are and actually create a document that includes them. So lastly, in this first step, what some what are some action steps that she can be taken. I mean, this education is great, but what practical steps can be taken first and foremost, quick with optimize your LinkedIn profile, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had conversations with my team. And in some cases, they have not looked at their profile and yours didn’t have a profile didn’t have a picture. Take some time to fill in your up your LinkedIn profile. Because this is in today’s day and time. This is the platform for your business network, both internal and external. And so fill that out. There’s some there’s some tips that I have around how you can best optimize that as well. Determine your influencer style that we talked about and then longer term as again, document your plan and tailor it to your position and to your organization. Because all companies are different. Your initiatives are different, the industry is different. And so tailor it to your situation. And then ultimately you won’t have a goal of having a lot of connections, broad connections. 10,000 Connections is is is a goal doesn’t have to be the goal. But I’m nowhere near that yet. I’m about half of that way. But it is it is something to aspire to. Because you as you grow your connections, the breadth and depth of them, not just within your company, but also outside of your industry. And so what does that look like in terms of how you execute it, so I couldn’t help put the red, yellow green stoplight risk. Graphic in here, I’m a risk guy Enterprise Risk guide. So if you think about how you implement some of these new skills, because again, influencing is a skill that can be learned and develop, I would suggest that you start with low risk situations first, and then move to high risk situations if you’re doing something new for the first time. So low risk could be I have a peer or colleague that I don’t know very well, I’m going to invite them to lunch or a happy hour and get to know them better. High Risk would be I have a executive presentation with a board and CEO m&a situation, a wall street analysts call any kind of legal or regulatory investigations would be high risk situations, because the stakes are high. So you know, these are examples. These won’t fit exactly everybody’s situation, but think about what low medium and high risk situations are for you. And if you’re trying a new influence strategy for the first time, I would suggest that you start on the low risk side of the equation. Now, what is it? What does an influencer look like? So I know if you have kids, you have heard the term influencer, and they usually you associate that with celebrities with sports figures with people that you see on television in the movies.

And and that’s that’s typically what those inputs are. But I would I would assert to you that whether it be Warren Buffett or Bill Gates or Ilan Musk, or any major luminary business leader, jamie diamond, JP Morgan, that they have the same traits as well. And I and and I submit that you should have them as well. So just just to touch on a few strong competence, we talked about that energy, right? consistency, being being consistent to what you say you’re going to do. I’ve had conversations with my team a number of times about you know, the the saying I like to say is how you do anything, is how you do everything you do you do well on the small things you do well on the big things be consistent, clear and effective communication, communication cannot be stressed enough, right. giving the gift of being present, and listening. I mean, we are in such a fast paced society and with all this stuff that’s happening in in the economy and everything else. And in smartphones, the constant scroll of information, and all of the things beeping at you, right? But it is such a gift, to take a moment and to listen to the other person listen so that you can understand them. Not that you necessarily have to agree with what they’re saying, because that’s different, but listen to listen so that you can understand where they’re coming from. Because having been giving him that gift of being present is a vital is a vital step in in being an influencer. Have good posture, try to have good posture it’s hard to hard to do that sitting but when you have good posture, you’re you project better right? describe things from a weak perspective versus an eye perspective, we are going to we can benefit this way the company can benefit this way the division can benefit this way versus this is what I think this is what I want focus on giving value first with no strings attached give value but without the expectation of receiving and so you know, if you know a particular topic, you have a subject matter expertise in a particular topic. You had lunch and learn doing in service, do a do a training within the company, you know, with colleagues or others to just to help them in through a particular situation. By doing that you’re also being an influencer and then connecting people to help them solve their problems. Everyone has problems and and everyone believes their problems are most are more important than everyone else’s problems, right? So if you can connect people so they can solve problems, you become the person that they look to, to well, they look to as a problem solver. Plain and simple. And so problem solvers are influencer. And then the taking action step four execute. There’s a lot here right but let me land on a couple of simple ones. Some of you may know this already. But handwritten, thank you cards how, how effective those still are in today’s times. Whether it be a thank you card or some kind of physical thing that you mail someone to to express their appreciation. It could be a gift like a number two there, that you know that is tangible, because you know most people today, send communication through electronic means text, email, you know, electronic means. And so think about how you can be different stand out from a crowd and really show your appreciation for when, whether it be your team members or colleagues or leaders for doing a good job. write an article for an association. So whatever trade association industry association that you’re a member of writing articles to share your expertise. And let me give a tip, one of the things I realized that there’s a difference between being an expert and being a recognized expert, an expert, I believe everyone on this webinar is an expert in something we we have a body of knowledge, we have a certification, we have a license, we have a skill or ability. But how many people know that we have that skill and ability and how many people have benefited from it. A recognized expert is someone who’s taken that that knowledge and has shared it either through training, through writing articles, through speaking through a number of different means, because that’s how others view them as a as an expert. And so when you see posting on LinkedIn, and speaking on a podcast, and then longer terms, starting your own podcast as my best stretch goal, writing a book as a stretch goal, those are all things that influencers do. And you I’m not saying to do those if you have no interest, for example, in writing a book on your particular topic, but but but you can do the things on the left hand side and go tremendously far in a short period of time.

By being by sharing your knowledge. And also speaking at virtual conferences, I, when we do have physical conferences, once again, that’s obviously another mechanism, but virtual conferences is another opportunity. And then on this next slide, I talked about what does it look like? And how do you know that you’re winning? Right, as, as technical people, we want to keep score. So these are some suggestions of ways that you can know that you’re winning the the, the campaign to be an influencer. So there are several things here. First, foremost promotions and are hitting, you’re exceeding your promote your performance goals. That’s a very tangible and obvious thing. Now that obviously, those are more of a longer term, usually within a year to two or three years, depending on from a promotion standpoint, but obviously, your influence or tactics, being strategic, again, not manipulative, is key in you achieving and advancing in your career, the size of your LinkedIn network, we talked about that before, outside of your company, in particular number of speaking engagements, engagements, number of likes, shares and comments on your social media posts. Let me land on number of executives in your network that you know, and have actually contacted and have spoken with. I mean, with all the contacts that I have on LinkedIn, I actually know maybe a third of those folks that I’ve actually met work with had a con i had a call with. And so, you know, don’t count all the passive networkers that you know, in the sales people that try to hit us all up, right? So how can you grow that segment of your network, and then requests from junior professionals to coach or mentor them, I mean, how rewarding and is it to get requests from people starting in their career, that could be you know, to be their coach or their mentor. As much as as much time as I can I try to share with Junior professionals, I know what it was, like, we all know what it was like, we were just trying to figure things out. And so that is a sign that they look to you, as someone that they want to be or emulate in a certain way. Now, there are many others, I’m not going to read them all here, there are many others. And so pick, you know, I would say three to five key ones that are most relevant to you. And put those on a dashboard of some kind create an Excel spreadsheet, have a dashboard of you know, how, you know, how are you doing? How are you moving the needle in those three to five metrics. And so that gets us to our, to our taking action slide for evaluating Step three, and that is again, three to five metrics, ask for feedback, get a coach let me land on this for a minute. As a CPA finance in even executive I I never saw the value of getting a personal performance coach or coach to help me on non technical things. But when I actually got a coach and got an executive coach to help me to see my blind spots to see the things that I didn’t know I was doing or didn’t know how I was being perceived. It was it was a game changer. It was a game changer. So I would encourage you to get some coaching of some kind. And it whether whether your organization can pay for it or you get it personally and you and you get you pay for it yourself. You that is a part of your personal and professional development, which is goes into the next, the last one about developing a personal development plan. I tell my team all the time, I am not responsible for your career you are. And so when you when you think about the conferences that we attend, to keep up with our technical knowledge and the licenses that we have to maintain, and all of that, how much of that education is is around our personal development, whether it be topics like this influence, whether it be other topics about how to commune be a better communicator, how much of our education time are we spending on ourselves so that we can become a better professional. So I would encourage you to build time in for that. And then lastly, in terms of long term strategies, you can add more metrics as you as you get used to tracking these things, right? Join a mastermind group. So this concept is an old concept, but it is still very relevant today. So you know, with a mastermind group is is a concept of getting together with like minded people who are trying to achieve what you’re trying to achieve. So from an executive standpoint, other executives, and they and

as executives, we have unique challenges and problems and that we didn’t have when we were earlier in our career and being able to bounce those things off of peers and colleagues in particularly outside of the company. This is what I’m talking about outside of your organization to where there’s it’s a low risk environment, to where you can express your concerns your frustrations, and it not come back to you in some negative way within the organization. And so having a small group of executives and masterminding with them and meeting with them periodically, and most importantly, helping them hold you accountable for your goals, your personal development goals and other things. I have found to be a tremendous asset. And it’s something that I’m actively involved in as well. And then grow your champions, people who support you, but also you have enemies, we all have enemies. No, we’re not liked by, by everybody, as you all know, an executive or a leader of any kind has to make hard decisions, whether it be personnel decisions, project decisions. And so there are always people that will second guess us. And so there will be enemies that we have, it’s just a matter of who they are. That’s a long term strategy, because it’s sometimes hard to understand who those people are, until a period of time. And so what I would submit to you is think about who those enemies are our detractors, you know, if you want to use the word enemy, put them on your influencer plan and have a strategy around how you can move them from an enemy, at least to neutral to where they you know, they’re not an enemy anymore, and maybe to positive. So think through that. So that’s, that’s my presentation for today. I want to thank you, thank you for your attention. This is a topic that I’m passionate about. This is a topic that I’m continuing to grow in. And I hope that what I’ve shared here today is help give you some ideas. So for your growth as an influencer, I would encourage you to connect with me on LinkedIn, but let me be a part of your network. I have a lot of resources on this topic. And I would love to share those with you just references webinar, when you connect with me, and my email and my information, LinkedIn information is listed there on the slide. Thank you. Again, thank you so much for taking the time to invest in your education. Please comment below. And I’d love to get your feedback in your comments about this session. I’d love to do some other sessions around some similar topics, but get you know, let me know what your frustrations are with influence some successes also that you’ve had, and maybe some tips that you have had in developing influence in your career as well. And with that, we’ll talk to you next time. Thank you so much.

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