Skip to Main Content

Building influence with limited authority can be difficult early in a career without the proper guidance and resources. The importance of developing an influential position cannot be understated, but maintaining that influence while in a junior position can be very difficult.

At the most recent HRMAC Young HR Leaders Interest Group, a pair of senior and junior panelists from US Cellular and American Colleague of Surgeons shared their stories of building influence and left some words of wisdom for young HR professionals.

Ruby Acevedo, Lead Organizational Effectiveness Program Specialist at US Cellular, stated the importance of gaining trust and finding common purpose in building influence and reputation as a young professional. Especially as a young professional new to the HR field, Acevedo reinforced the importance in acknowledging mistakes and treating every opportunity as a learning experience. Michelle McGovern, Director of HR and Operations at American Colleague of Surgeons, explained that juniors need to understand their emotional intelligence and utilize their youthful, positive psychology to influence others.

The senior panelists explained that just as juniors must work to build influence in the workplace, successful leaders must also provide the guidance to ensure that juniors mature to be strong successors. “A great leader works with their team to acknowledge and release the blind spots to help self-correct,” said Deirdre Drake, CHRO at US Cellular. “Being a leader is not achievable overnight but a craft that takes years to develop,” said Drake. Young HR leaders can continue to strengthen their influence through the following tips from McGovern:

  • Establish a vision. Be willing to look beyond for the team and ensure a successful future lies ahead. Be proactive to situations by seeing ahead, forecasting possible obstacles your team may face, and learning what makes the company work.
  • Give time. To develop the relationships and connections, you must give the time to team members individually. Offer time to show that you are willing to sacrifice your own time to benefit someone else’s.
  • Create connections. Not only is it important to develop and maintain your connections, but be willing to give the team connections. Connections will provide answers and resources to allow someone to learn more than the answer they were looking for.
  • Give and receive trust. Trust is a common theme throughout the panel. To be influential, you must initially gain the trust from team members and leaders.
  • Create successors. To be a great leader, you must nourish members to be the next successors for the team. Therefore if the leader were to leave, the team would still be successful.