“Influence.” It’s an important word and it is fundamental to leadership.

Influence is the art of persuasion. It is getting things done, affecting ideas and action without force or dictatorial command. Influence is about shifting mindsets versus mandating temporary behaviors.

Influence Versus Authority

Authority involves power whereas influence requires skills and abilities. Authority generally requires a structure and a reward or payment system while leadership comes with the development of relationships and can come from any individual at any level in an organization. Authority can be resisted while influence involves trust and acceptance.

7 Ways to Influence Other People

Developing the ability to influence other people takes some deliberate efforts. It requires:

• Building trust in others and being consistent in your actions toward or involving them. That in turn means have a genuine interest in them and acting authentically before guiding them toward a particular outcome. 

• Being present in the moment to connect with them more effectively. That requires more listening and less telling. When you demonstrate that you understand others, your dialogue will improve. 

• Seek to understand. As Dr. Stephen R. Covey stated, “Seek to understand before you seek to be understood.” Understand through questions to improve your interactions. People will do things when they understand and develop their own reasons for responding. 

• Educate and encourage others. Most people respond better when they are taught how to make better choices, how to handle problems or deal with situations in a better way. Encouraging others empowers them and helps them encourage themselves. 

• Acknowledge any concerns or objections. That gives you credibility to move forward. 

• Praise liberally and sincerely. Everyone wants to feel valued. 

• Challenge and encourage them. Help them know what they are capable of and prompt their further growth.  

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