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 The Power of Influence

 

I often hear professionals, particularly younger ones, complaining about their lack of control in various situations. They say if they had the departments reporting to them their CEO, SVP, VP or Senior Director has; things would run a lot more smoothly. What they are really saying is, “If I could control these departments, I could guarantee the results.”  The truth is control is an illusion. You cannot control anyone, even the people that report to you. Think about it, how much control do you have over your kids?

 

The one person you have the most control of is yourself. However, you can influence nearly everyone, especially if you have developed a working relationship with them. Influence is one of the greatest leadership skills there is to posses. Think of the challenges Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. experienced. History notes them as great leaders even though they had control over virtually no one, yet their influence changed the course of history.  To become a savvy professional you must learn how to develop the ability to influence others. Some of you have great influence with the person you report to; however, to have far reaching impact you must have far reaching influence. To accomplish this you must stop concentrating on what you want to control and begin to focus on how you can expand your influence.

 

Here are four suggestions that will help you become a person of influence no matter where you are in the organization:

 

  1. Focus on yourself. As Gandhi famously said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” Modeling is the most powerful form of teaching known to man. If you aren’t “walking the talk,” you lessen your influence. (Michael Hyatt)
  2. Take the initiative. Whiners are passive. They sit back and complain. They focus on what others should have done rather than what they themselves could have done. Professionals don’t have time to play the blame-game. Instead, they look for opportunities to take initiative and take action. There is always something you could be doing to influence the outcome. (Michael Hyatt)
  3. Cast the vision. Oftentimes people don’t want what we want, because we have not invested the time to paint the vision. People want a challenge and to do something significant. If you want the leader and department you support to operate a certain way you have to give them a compelling vision of a new reality. (Michael Hyatt)
  4. Learn to build strong relationships. At the end of the day, everyone is a volunteer. Yes, even the people who report to others. As you have a relationship with everyone you interact with on a regular basis; the question is: What is the depth of that relationship? Depth determines the amount of trust and risk one is willing to engage in with you and yes, how much influence you have with them. People have more options than you think. If you don’t appreciate them, someone else will. People want to give their best effort to those who notice. As Zig Ziglar once said, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” When you show people that you care about them as individuals and listen to their ideas you validate them which add mortar to the relationship deepening the opportunity to influence when opinions are different. (Byron Ricks)

 

Influence is the action or process of producing effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of another or others (Merriam-Webster Online). Many people understand control and want to be in control. Few people understand what influence is and the power in having it. Wouldn’t it be nice if people stood ready to do our bidding? For most of us this is only a pipe dream. If we are truly going to make a difference, we are going to have to sharpen our interpersonal skills and become more pro-active at broadening our influence.

 Byron Ricks, MA

Certified Trainer and Author

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