Saturday, May 26, 2012

The person of influence

Influence is the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others. 

Personal observations:
Becoming a person of influence is not a short-term assignment. It’s a life-long journey.

You cannot legislate attitudes. You can’t become a person of influence unless others choose you to be such. This is one area where you cannot become a self-made person. It’s based on someone else’s perspective, which is fickle and easily swayed. The trendline of an influential person is consistently on the up-and-up.

Consistency and commitment are foundational as influence comes from trust and trends, both of which take a LONG TIME to build. It’s a process; a worthwhile process. Your credibility and reputation impacts whether the other person notices or really hears what you want.

Here are some traits of people who have influenced my own life: 

Live a life of undivided integrity. Be transparent. Be solid. Set the example to follow.

Always demonstrate a positive attitude.
 No matter HOW bad life is going, negativity is never an encouragement. Never. It’s a huge detriment. Wimps, whiners and cry-babies don't influence anyone productively. Encourage, support, lift others up - and smile.  
Consider other people's interests as more important than your own. Show genuine interest in others. How well you relate to the needs of others will develop entire networks and bonds that last. Respect differences. You don’t have to agree or even condone, but respect their right to have an opinion or conviction within legal, moral, and ethical guidelines. 

People LOVE to talk about themselves – don’t YOU?! Use this fact to broaden your own horizons by learning more about someone else’s perspective, knowledge, interests, and insights. That’s the wonder of conversation and relationships: mutual growth! Listen and learn. Zig Ziglar said it well: People like those that listen more than they like those that talk.

Face it - people don’t want to hear about you… they want to hear themselves echoed in your words. Find out what motivates the other person. It could range from looking good to their boss, to wanting to get promoted, to achieving a specific goal or working less. Take the commonalities and build the relationship on mutual influence.

Find your common ground with others. Combine your interests and intent with what matters to the other person. People tend to be much more receptive if they view your interests as aligned with their own interests, goals and objectives. 

Lend a helping hand: authentically, genuinely, and without seeking anything in return. Doesn’t it feel really good to help other people?

Find your niche – your area of expertise - and use it to productively help others. Don’t flaunt your skill. Don’t be obnoxious because of your abiliity. Don’t use it to be critical of others. Don’t be better than anyone else because of it. Be constructive, not destructive, with your abilities, talents and skills – and SHARE with discretion and with a goal of mutual growth and productivity. Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17).

Establish a reputation of integrity. It’s never nice to talk about people behind their back, and doing that always takes away from your credibility. If you talk about someone, you’ll talk about anyone, so what you say had better be something anyone will want to hear. One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies is, If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all. While it may be tempting to join in a discussion to express a negative opinion about a third party, it will not develop your ability to influence the person who is not present and could quickly snowball downhill when heard by others. In all reality, gossip and slander will destroy your honor with all parties concerned. Even perceived allies will question your trustworthiness when you engage in backbiting.

If you’re in a discussion about someone and making decisions that will affect their life, stop the discussion until the person can join the conversation. Don’t make a decision that affects someone without them. That’s just rude! True alliances are founded on loyalty, dependability, and straight-forwardness. Be honest. The bottom line is: You must be seen as a foundation of integrity in order to be influential within a group. This means your own foundation MUST be solidly built on integrity.

Last, but not least:
Don't settle for anything less than excellence and quality in anything and everything you do. Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it; autograph your work with excellence. Never settle. Always push for better. Sloppiness, “dropping the ball”, and half-hearted efforts will be recognized for what they are. Whatever you do, don’t do it halfway.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit
. ~ Aristotle