If you had to list qualities both common and crucial to highly successful leaders, INFLUENCE is probably going to be high on that list. And we often hear talk about wanting to have more influence.
But we’re all of us already influencers. Because we cannot not influence.
The illusion of influence
Influence is all around us. We are being influenced. We are doing the influencing. In every exchange. In every interaction. We are so sensitivity to one another, influence is simply an integral part of our existence.
Even those of us who say they have no influence. They do. It’s just they’re sending-out signals into the world that say: I have no influence here; you can ignore me; you can disregard my involvement.
So the problem is not that we don’t have influence. Rather, it’s that we have an influence we don’t want.
And that’s a useful thought. Because now we can see that: to “have more influence” is about mastering the influences we are already creating. And the responsibility is back with us, rather than those around us.
So here are 6 ways to start mastering your influence.
Know what kind of influencer you are
Start by noticing how you “do influence”. Are you inclusive, coercive, convincing, negotiating, inspiring, assertive? Do you have just one style of influence – or do you adapt to the context? Know your influencing style.
Be in the other person’s world
Have a genuine interest and curiosity in those around you. What do the other people in the exchange care about? What’s going to motivate them to align with your thinking? What language and approach is going to speak to them?
Talk to their unconscious
In Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, we’re reminded that 95% of decision-making happens in the unconscious, emotional “System 1” brain; and just 5% in the conscious rational “System 2” brain. So why do we continue to talk to System 2 so much of the time? Instead: connect with the feelings, if you want to influence.
Always be building your network
Your influence isn’t just you; it’s the immediate and extended network of connections you carry with you, everywhere you go. Your network has to be nurtured, so tend to it regularly.
Work on your optimism
Optimism is the foundation of influence: whatever we intend is reinforced by our optimism. Persuasion and persistence are also supported by optimism. We can all be optimistic. So simply choose to be optimistic, right now.
Adopt an influencing stance
Research by social psychologist Amy Cuddy has shown just what an effect our body language can have on our own body chemistry and on other people’s perceptions of us. So adopt the pose of a powerful influencer.
The power of influence
We are all influencers. Whether we mean to be or not. Whether we’re trying to or not. Those of us who acknowledge that fact are well on the way to mastering their own influences – and so their (external, positive, intended, resourceful) influence on the world around them.