When it comes to getting things done by others, influence does serve as an important element. What people don't easily forget is the influence you have on them after meeting or talking to me. Great people such as Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama, and Martin Luther King Jr all have been influencers in great ways. They are influencers because they have altered people's way of thinking, opinions, or buying decisions. People trust their suggestions, ways of living, opinions, and recommendations.
Attaining the power to influence others can surely pave your path to success. However, influence is something that can't be bought or sold in the market. It is something that you will have to build yourself from the scratch.
Influencing people is one of the most significant tasks you face as a leader. Oxford Languages defines the word ‘influence’ as “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.”
Once you have that sort of effect on others, you have power. Not coercive power, but strength from inside that invites people to listen to what you have to say, makes them want to work with you, prepares them to take the next step, and motivates them to share your vision.
But how can you influence the people around you in real life? How can you attain the power of influence?
1. Creating value for others.
When you start creating value and working towards improving the quality of life of others, people start feeling your presence. If you do this, sooner your influence will drive things for you, and even in your absence; you will be missed. There is a wonderful quote that says don't fight for making your presence felt but strive for making people feel your absence. Everyone wants to feel valued and important but not many people are able to do that for others and that is what makes influencers different from others.
I was going through the list of the world's most influential power which included people such as Palmer Luckey, Inventor, of Oculus Rift, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, and Deepak Chopra, Spiritual Guru, and saw that not one person is there on the list who does not contribute towards improving the lives of others.
2. Be an example in speech.
If we are going to be influencers, we need to be known as people whose words reflect hope and encouragement. What we say matters a lot. While speaking we should always keep in mind whether our words are helpful for building others up according to their needs or not, whether it is benefitting those who are listening to us or not.
3. Be an example in conduct.
It is not the flawless behavior that people are looking for. It is sincerity. It has an impact on the people around us when we are transparent about our mistakes and show a sincere desire to improve.
Then what are the characteristics of true influencers?
1. They always feel that they have a responsibility toward their followers.
2. They don't brag about themselves but show others a better path to walk upon.
3. They value others and never use them for their own advantage.
4. They earn the respect by being able to create value for others.
5. They don't criticize or complain, instead appreciate and motivate people.
6. True influencers show their impact without being sales-oriented.
I recently read the Book ‘How to win friends and influence people’ by Dale Carnegie. Here Carnegie shows us that connecting with other people is a skill (rather than an inherent talent) that we can improve the skill by being honest about our weaknesses and intentions in our efforts to overcome those obstacles. The central idea is that you can influence the conduct of others just by changing your own. It teaches you how to better understand people, become more likable, strengthen relationships, persuade others, and influence behavior through leadership.
Accordingly to the book, the most important things that a person needs to do to become an influencer are -
1. Show that you are genuinely interested in other people’s betterment.
2. Remember other people's names.
3. Be a good listener. Listen to them and make them feel important.
4. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
However, all of this revolves around the contribution that you must make to other people's lives. Once you develop the attitude of a giver, it is from there that you start building up your influence. Almost everyone wants to become a great influencer. However, this attitude is no doubt hard to develop because people do understand if you don't have a real intention of serving them.
This reminds me of a story I heard about Al Hart, a KCBS Radio News anchor, and how he influenced people around him. Al Hart was the kind of person who believed that good guys actually do win. He always made an effort to learn the names of individuals with whom he worked. He sent handwritten cards for birthdays and special occasions. He also influenced the work ethics of other people in his job - the importance of being kind and laughing out loud.
Another person who has personally influenced my life is the writer Madeleine L’Engle. Through her memoirs, books, and daily meditations, I feel as if I know her personally. She kept writing even after being rejected for over a decade. Her great love of humanity, the way she merged science and faith, the way she cared for family members, her ability to sit quietly on a rock by a stream, and her boldness in expressing her thoughts in any context, inspire me to do the same. Each time I pick up and read through one of her books, I strive to be more like her.
So how to become a GIVER? Here are 3 tips to become a Giver before becoming an Influencer.
1. Listen to others without interruption.
It all comes down to your mental state when it comes to listening properly. When you listen, you are present. Pay attention to what others are saying rather than what you wish to say. Being genuinely listened to is rare enough in today's world. So doing that will likely increase your influence on the person you listen to.
2. Honor your commitments.
If you want people to believe in you, keep your promises. When you say you'll respond by tomorrow at 9 a.m., make sure it's in their inbox before the mentioned time. If something prevents you from following through, inform someone that you're working on it and when you'll be able to answer. When others perceive you to be dependable, you become a dependable presence.
3. Give others a chance to speak up.
Even if you want to share your ideas and thoughts, pause and let someone else share their ideas or make a suggestion. Making sure individuals around you are heard and understood, allows them to express whatever they want. By providing this chance, you empower people and make them feel included in the process.
You may be unaware that your actions are having an effect on others as you gain influence. But when you really work towards making other's lives better, even by taking small steps such as meeting with a smile, being courteous and appreciative, etc., you will see how your influence is remembered even after you leave this world.