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art and science of influenceEver feel envious of that successful work colleague who’s connected to everyone, whose projects and budgets get approved, and whose opinions are actively sought out because people want to know what they think?

If you do, please don’t waste your time being jealous. Rather, focus on improving your abilities in the art and science of influence. Whether at work or in your personal life, your ability to make an appeal (to influence) based on logic, emotion or in the spirit of cooperation is essential for success.

Influence and leadership are related because anyone—regardless of having a job title or not—can be good at them. Influence is critical for building relationships, securing support (especially when you aren’t the immediate supervisor), persuading other people to champion your idea, or when you need to spark someone’s imagination.

The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority. ~Kenneth Blanchard

People with first-rate influence skills combine interpersonal, communication, and assertiveness abilities. The purpose of influence is building a network of win-win interactions between people. It’s NOT about controlling or manipulating them.

Questions about influence to ask yourself

To determine your effectiveness in being able to influence others, ask yourself:

  • Do I get results through and with people, even when I’m not the boss?
  • Do I have the personal power to shape outcomes and cause things to happen?
  • Do people seek out my opinion?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, polishing up your skills in the following areas will help increase your sphere of influence.

7 ways to have more influence

Influence is both art and science. Put these tips to work to polish up your “art and science” skills.

Become a perceptive observer. Watch what’s going on in your company or around you at home or with friends. Individuals with strong influencing skills examine, ask and validate.

Be knowledgeable and have a bias for action. If you want to have an impact on results, know your organization and its culture, as well as your job, inside and out. Be clear about what you want to achieve. Under-promise and over-deliver on timelines for getting things accomplished.

Note to self: finding a cool quote and writing it in your journal is not a substitute for Getting. It. Done. ~Betsy Cañas Garmon

Be visible by engaging and involving others. Actively listen to what people are saying. People who have highly developed influence skills first pull people to their ideas, and then push those ideas to the rest of the organization through other people.

Be self-aware. Understand and control your own emotions and actions. Know both your limitations and your strengths, and then position yourself to maximize what you do best.

Give, give, GIVE! When you give, people will give back. Never underestimate someone’s heartfelt desire to leave a positive mark. Make your own constructive contribution while seeing, and appreciating, the gifts of others.

It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference. ~Tom Brokaw

Cultivate meaningful two-way relationships. Help before someone asks. Say thank you. Be there when people need you. Be a broker of ideas and information. People like to be around those who make positive things happen.

Be sincere and authentic. Approach situations seeking to find a mutually beneficial outcome; avoid the “I win, you lose” mentality. Assure that your words and your deeds are consistent and rooted in goodness. As Herminia Ibarra, a professor at the Harvard Business School says, “Integrity can be a source of power.”

How do you rate your ability to influence others? What tips can you share?

Image source before quote:  morgueFile