Leadership— How Well Do You Influence Others?

Your ability to influence other people determines how successful you are as a leader. As a leader you need to change people’s beliefs, thoughts and actions in order to have them follow you. This is true certainly in business but also in life in general. Parents try to influence their kids, kids try to influence their parents, bosses try to influence employees, sales people try to influence prospects and on it goes. So how are your skills at influencing others? And how can you improve your ability to influence others and become a great leader?

In order to be able to influence people you first need to understand how people work and how they make decisions. You should know that people have a conscious ability and a sub-conscious ability. And they use these abilities to decide whether or not they will be influenced by any individual. If you can focus on the emotions of people and get behind their sub-conscious your ability to influence them is greatly enhanced. Dealing with the sub-conscious is something that people might feel or sense about us. Many people might consider this intuition. So understand that you are working with people’s minds or conscious ability but also with emotions or intuitions or their sub-conscious ability.

Another thing you should understand is when we lead we don’t just decide to do so. In order to lead you must have followers. Which means you don’t decide to lead, other people decide to follow. They allow you to lead them.  So as leaders you need to determine what kind of person other people are looking for as their leaders. What kind of characteristics will that leader have, what kind of behavior will he or she exhibit and what kind of skill will they possess. The more you live the life that people want to emulate the more followers you will have and the better leader you will become. If you can determine the kind of traits and characteristics people are looking for, you will know what to work on to make changes to yourself. Try this exercise. List out what you think the characteristics are of a good leader. You may want to also ask you employees to do the same. Things that may show up on the list might be; integrity, passion, attitude, tenacity, dedication, motivation, optimistic just to name a few.  Then ask yourself how do you measure up against this list. From this exercise you should be able to decide what areas you need to work on to be able to gain peoples respect and trust and therefore increase your ability to influence.

As leaders we use powers to influence people. Now, there is direct power or hard power. And then there is a more subtle power or soft power. An example of a hard power is “if you don’t complete this task I will fire you.” This certainly will get people’s attention and probably influence the desired behavior. However, in the long run this person will eventually stop being a follower of yours. Most people use hard power when leading people (maybe not as strong as my example) but it is not the most effective way to influence people. Hard power touches a persons mind but you won’t change their beliefs or their feelings and emotions. If you have ever taken a sales training course or read books on sales I’m sure you were told that people make decisions emotionally and justify them logically. Leaders who use soft power will tap into a person’s emotion. They will have much more devoted followers. The followers will not just be going through the motions. They will have bought into your vision. They will want to follow you.

You can improve your ability to influence others when you change yourself. When you position yourself with the right characteristics, exhibit the right behaviors and use soft power more often than hard power people will begin to respect you and trust you. You will then see how this will hugely make an impact on your influencing others and you will be on your way to becoming a great leader.