Anointed power may look omnipotent, but it rarely is. Titles mean nothing because people that are disrespected or misuse their titles generate contempt rather than influence.
Indeed, hiding behind a title in order to exert authority is almost certainly an expression of poor influence. And this makes influence an egalitarian concept in the workplace.
Important people can lack influence, while so-called unimportant people can wield it. The widely recognised building blocks of influence are trustworthiness, reliability and assertiveness (all of which have little to do with position).
But there is a way to gain influence. Here are my six supporting tactics that can help anyone gain serious influence:
1. Earn credit
Offer favours liberally in the office. Indeed, gain a reputation for doing favours. Don’t view it as being a doormat. View it as earning credit. The more one-way favours you execute, the more and more credit you’re winning from that individual. One day – someday – you may need to call in that loan, so consider each favour done as adding to your influence pot with that person.
2. Exploit your expertise
If you can develop specialist knowledge in anything you have influence. Of course, you should seek to expand this expertise out (to other areas), sideways (to similar status colleagues) and up (to those with more senior positions).
3. Build collaboration
Individuals within organizations, big and small, can quickly develop a “silo mentality”, which means we stay within our role and/or division – perhaps even guarding it from people we perceive as outsiders or predators. Yet this is a limiting outlook. We should look beyond such silos to remind ourselves of the organization’s broader goals and, instead, focus on nurturing co-operation between teams.
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