Expanding Your Circle of Influence: How to Increase Your Social and Professional Impact
Power isn’t ingrained or inherent; it’s a learned ability. Once you begin building your social and professional impact, you’ll have greater control over the direction of your company, your career, and your life.
Building a Strong Power Base and Using Influence Wisely
As we gain influence over others, we need to carefully temper those gains with judicious use. With each unit of influence we bring toward ourselves, we increase the need for cautious exercise of that influence. Abused power is about as effective as no power at all.
Imagine units of influence as money in a bank. When we accumulate attention, credibility, and trust, we add capital to our accounts. But when we exercise this influence (especially if we do so recklessly), our capital becomes depleted. Bear this in mind. Before using power to control the behavior and decisions of others, we should first have a clear picture of the overall balance in our accounts.
Gaining Power and Influence: Strategies
There are very few shortcuts to real influence, and most of the shortcuts that do exist are questionable. True, legitimate power gains in the workplace often come from three traits—expertise, likability, and effort—and four defined actions:
- Gaining regular contact with and fast action from top decision makers
- Removing items quickly from a meeting agenda
- Gaining approval for non-budgeted items
- Mediating on behalf of the weak or non-influential
Transforming Power into Influence
Each of the actions above can increase the capital in an individual’s bank of influence. But this happens most effectively under circumstances like the following:
- The community must be aware of the influential act
- The community must have a later need for a similar act
- The community must understand that this influence was gained through legitimate channels and is supported by a consistent pattern of likability, expertise, and effort.
True leadership is rooted in trust. Before taking any action, consider how your action may increase or deplete you bank of capital. And once you’ve made a decision, be willing to follow through and build a historyof legitimacy and reliability.
I will discuss more on this topic in my class at Manhattan College on October 10, 2012.
Image By: Victor1558