We all like to think that we have influence. And that’s true.
But as you look around your organization – and even your own team – you’ll see that some people achieve an outsized level of influence that is independent of their role or job title.
They are leaders who are effective at moving those around them to action.
In this context, ask yourself “how much influence do I really have?”
The truth is anyone can increase their influence. However, many fall into a trap where they see influence as a tool to get what they want rather than a way to improve everyone’s lot.
In my latest book, Influence in Talent Development, I cover the three most common mistakes people make when they try to increase their influence.
Mistake manipulation for influence
Manipulation is NOT influence. Being influential is not about getting what you want at any cost. It’s about having your opinion heard, respected and sought after. You want others to seek out your advice and counsel.
Believe influence is instant
Growing your influence doesn’t happen overnight. You need to work every day to demonstrate your influence. If you do the work, you will see how others grow to respect you and value your contributions and input.
Treat influence as transactional
This is a big one. And it relates back to the concept of manipulation. In the same way that you can’t buy respect, you also can’t barter for influence. Wheeling and dealing can increase leverage – but it will never result in influence. That’s because there will always be someone else ready to make a better “deal.” So, you need to build authentic relationships that nurture influence.
The key thing to remember is that Influence is about how you live more than what you do.
So now that you know how to avoid the mistakes that undermine your influence – what can you do to increase it?
In my research I’ve found there are 5 specific strategies that are critical to increasing your influence.
Selflessly Add Value
This first strategy is tied to Social Capital, and it is the opposite of transactional relationships. When you selflessly add value to your team and organization it is recognized. Your influence builds when you make consistent investments in growing mutual, self-less relationships.
Embrace the challenge
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that nothing is certain. But those who’ve continued to thrive – and increase their influence – have consistently risen to the occasion by demonstrating courage and a willingness to step out of their comfort zone. Embracing the challenge of a situation resonates with those around you and it influences how they respond to you as a leader.
Be Adaptable, Not Artificial
Authenticity is a key factor in building real influence. You can’t fake it. And if you try – people know.
If you want to increase your influence, you need to know and maintain the fundamental values and principles of your character. When a situation changes, your core values do not. If you can adapt without compromise, your stock with others will continue to rise.
Grow Your Expertise
Always be curious and always lean-in to your work and to others with passion. If you are static in your learning and thinking, you become predictable. Your counsel will not be sought, and your influence will decline in favor of those around you who continue to nurture theirs.
Unleash Community Influence
Finally, it’s important to understand that your influence is made stronger when it is shared with those around you. Invite and welcome all the assets that come from peoples’ uniqueness to inspire a vibrant, inclusive workplace community. Selflessly embrace the experience, knowledge, and talent of those around you.
How are you going to improve your influence in the coming year? Send me an email or leave a comment on social media when you share this article.