No longer does influence sit alongside authority and power, authority is bestowed on you while influence is gained. You cannot afford to overlook the importance of your influence in engaging and leading other people.
Influence is an Essential Leadership Skill
Influence is, defined as 'the power and ability to personally affect others' actions, decisions, opinions or thinking.' We all have an influence; we can positively or negatively impact the people around us. It is not fixed; your influence will depend on your audience. Influence is not exerted on others it is what others allow you to gift to them.
No one can make you feel bad unless you allow or give them permission. Whatever power they exert, it is you who acknowledges their impact over you. Understanding that influence is a gift that you can choose to allow or not, then you realise the extent of your personal power.
We all can influence other people; influence is either conscious or unconscious. Conscious influencing is when you set out to get a promotion or to affect a decision. You plan and execute action on a specific number of people who have a stakeholder or authority interest in the decision or activity. The Centre for Creative Leadership David Baldwin and Curt Grayson found that there are three kinds of conscious influencing tactics: logical, emotional and cooperative. Logical is reasoning on the personal and organisational benefits; emotional is appealing to the individual's personal goals and cooperative is building on mutual collaborations.
Dale Carnegie in How to Win Friends and Influence People includes many conscious methods such as:
- Show genuine interest in someone else.
- Remember people's names.
- Listen and encourage them to talk.
- Sincerely make someone feel important.
Unconscious influencing is the opposite of conscious in terms of an unknown decision or action and a non-specific number of people. You are not appealing to anyone for support; they support you because you are you, for this reason, unconscious influence, it is the more potent. People allow you to influence them because they have chosen to like, trust and respect you and are, therefore, willing to go the extra mile for you.
Why is Unconscious Influence Powerful?
Isn't it wonderful when someone says he or she was inspired by something you said or did; or if someone says you helped them to move forward? It is a great honour, to influence another person having not sort favour.
Unconscious influence is a gift; a gift that someone else bestows on you. You can say the same thing to two people; one person progresses and the other does not. A person who has advanced has given you their permission to influence them and the other person has not. You cannot dictate who will give you permission to influence and who will not.
How You Influence Unconsciously?
- You follow your own path.
- You hold your own counsel.
- You project kindness to everyone you meet.
- You do your best always.
- You use each day as an opportunity to improve.
- You think of others with kindness and generosity.
- You behave as the best version of yourself.
Every day is a new opportunity to be a better version of you; each day is a new experience and a new opportunity to learn and improve.
When someone acknowledges your influence, he or she is saying you are further ahead in this matter and thanking you for enlightening them. This acknowledgement does not mean you have influence in all areas of their life or that you are a genius.
Nevertheless, they accepted your knowledge, experience or perspective, it is a gift.
The most effective leaders know how to wield both conscious and unconscious influence to increase their personal and professional standing. In a rapidly changing and connected world, you cannot afford to overlook the importance of both conscious and unconscious influence.