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Want Influence? Here's How to Get It!

Updated on December 26, 2014
Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less.
Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less. | Source

Do you wish you were a more influential leader? Have you found yourself wondering how to get people to buy into your vision and follow you?

Of course you have. It's what all great leaders have had to do. It's essential for good leadership. If you don't know how to influence, you won't be able to lead.

John C. Maxwell, one of the foremost authorities on leadership says that leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less. You can't separate leadership from influence. If you're wondering how to gain more influence, you're in the same camp as many other leaders.

So how do you become more influential?

Easy. You provide more value. When it comes to influence, my motto is simply this: The level of influence you will have over a person or group is directly related to the level of value you bring them. I would submit to you this idea: People will not allow you to influence them if you don't somehow become valuable to them.

When people perceive that you have the desire and the means to benefit them, they are more likely to listen to you when you want to influence them. Can this can be used to manipulate and deceive people? I would suspect that many unscrupulous leaders do this in order to get what they want.

However, when this is done with a sense of integrity and compassion, it can create something magnificent. A team that has a leader who genuinely cares about them can achieve far more than a team with a leader who leads through fear or deception. Better leaders make for happier workers. Happier workers are more productive.

This is a principle that can manifest itself in many different ways. In sales, which is heavily reliant upon influence, you must convince the prospect that what you are giving them is valuable. This is also true in marketing and especially politics.

The level of influence you have is directly related to the level of value you bring.
The level of influence you have is directly related to the level of value you bring. | Source

It was very true in the story of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. He was the first President of the Modern State of Turkey. He took an oppressed, war-weary country and turned it into a respected nation.

In the aftermath of World War I, he was elected President. It was his mission to restore Turkey to its former glory. He did this by changing the entire culture of the nation to reflect the culture of the Western world. He taught the people how to read and write using the Western alphabet. He gave the people the sense of identity and pride that they still possess to this day.

He did this by working tirelessly to accomplish his goal of turning Turkey a proud and powerful nation. He even traveled around the country with his chalkboard and personally taught Turks how to read and write. The Turkish people saw him as a fatherly figure, which is why they voted to give him the name "Ataturk." It means "Father of the Turks."

Ataturk is a great example of a leader who was valuable to the people he led. If the Turks did not believe that Kemal could have a positive impact on their lives, he would have had no real influence.

Think of the people who have had the most influence over you throughout your life. The people whose advice you would be the most likely to follow.

It's very likely that at one point or another, these people have brought something into your life that you value. It's also likely that the positive impact that they have had on your life has prompted you give them the right to influence you.

Are there other ways to gain influence? Perhaps, but most of these other methods are still going to come back to whether or not you are valuable to the people you want to influence. Where there is no value, there is no real influence.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk | Source

How Do You Bring Value?

Are you in charge of a team? Do you want them to follow you? Be valuable to them. Luckily, this is not always hard to do. You don't have to completely change someone's life in order to be valuable to them. If you lead a team, there are several things you can do to make them value you.

  • Get to know them. Ask them questions about themselves that are not work related. Be genuinely interested in who they are as people.
  • Go to bat for them. Be in their corner if they deal with hardships at work.
  • Show genuine appreciation for the efforts they put in. Simply saying "Thank you for doing such a great job on that project" goes a long way.
  • Teach them something they didn't already know.
  • Actively support them in their goals. Be their cheerleader.
  • When they're feeling discouraged, remind them of their successes and let them know that you believe in them.

These are only a few things you can do as a leader to bring value to the members of your team. They are simple things that anyone can do. They don't take a lot of time and they really do make a difference. There are many other ways to bring value to your team and make them happy as well.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is simply this: If you want to earn the right to influence a group that you are leading, you must show that you are valuable to them. You can do this by finding ways to positively impact their lives. When you do this, you will gain their trust, which means they will allow you to influence them.

Keep moving forward.

John C. Maxwell discussing the 2nd Law of Leadership


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