The Power to Influence With Positive Intent
Influence is constantly at work in our business lives. Personal influence is the power to affect what people think and do. It can determine how things get done, or not done, in a company. What is important to understand is that you can apply two kinds of influence – constructive or destructive – and what we choose to use will make all the difference in the quality of our personal lives, our experience at work, the performance of our companies, and the state of our world.
We’ve all seen it. We see it in strong-armed executives who rule with fear. It’s apparent in people who spin and manipulate the truth to make someone look bad and deflect responsibility. We see it in alliances designed to protect the status quo at the expense of needed change and transformation. And we see it in “victims” who use a defensive mask to aggressively manipulate and attack others.
This is the underbelly of our business world. It is dark energy that drags down our people, our organizations, and our world.
In business school we were required to read Nicolo Machiavelli’s “The Prince”. It is from this book that the term “Machiavellian” emerged. Machiavelli himself was not a bad man. He was actually a very insightful observer of how politics worked. This was a book on how to obtain and hold power over what he called principalities. Today we might call them things like countries, companies, or departments within organizations. Machiavelli told us you will be more successful ruling by fear than by love.
I had no idea at the time I read this that what he said would be the grain of sand around which my career would unfold. I only remember how sad it was for me to see the truth of the political condition – how much pain it caused the world. There must be an “antidote”, I mused. Aren’t the signs out there that it is time for us to evolve beyond this political condition? In the choice about influence – constructive or destructive – I know what I choose.
One answer is for us as individuals to embrace and practice constructive influence. We apply constructive influence when we work with people to get things done. We are not doing things to them. For those of you who have attended a Consultative Partnering workshop, you are ahead of the game. Consultative Partnering is all about constructive influence. Here are a few examples:
This is a tool for influencing others by succinctly articulating your expertise and its relevance to the situation and the other person. This is not intimidation or coercion, it is sharing.
Peeling the Onion
Asking questions to get to the bottom of the issue or need is in itself a way to influence thinking. In addition, it helps you make sure that when you do respond, you are influencing the client in a way that will help them solve the real issue.
Any time you are doing things as a group, you can use the Consultative Process to constructively influence each other, your clients, and your stakeholders. In this way you are finding win-wins, building group alignment throughout, and achieving optimum results.
Only you can decide about your influence – constructive or destructive. Staying focused on constructive influence begins with each of us. Advance Consulting helps organizations shift to a culture providing client-focused services based on a foundation of trust and commitment. If we embrace and live constructive influence, others will follow…and that will make a difference.
If you and your team would like help building constructive influence skills, visit our Interpersonal Business Skills page. Or, contact us for a no-obligation consultation.