Power or Influence
Some people think of power as control and a way to manipulate. Power can certainly be used to do that. We have seen it with narcissistic leaders. I could name a few, but I think your cognitive choices might be more influential to my point. Therefore, people tend to shy away from powerful people and their dogma. They want the status quo and are not in tune with the idea of being controlled. But what about the concept of power for the sake of influencing progress? I recently had the pleasure of meeting with a new start-up for an educational institution; the operational vision was bold and exciting, but the community expected to thwart the initial concept. I thought about how strategically the right moves might influence the community to adopt the bold strategy.
Do you initially look at power as an influencer when thinking through a strategy? In "7 Rules of Power," Jeffrey Pfeffer writes about the paradox of 'likability." He states that "being liked is a source of power." And I would argue that likeability is a significant precursor to influence. Therefore, power is an essential aspect of influence. If you want to attract new clients, sell a service or commodity, an idea or a plan, you need to be influential, so your audience needs to see you as in control or powerful. This mindset involves appearing powerful even if you are not. Image and speech are important. You want to tell your narrative quickly with clarity and early in the process. Long, laborious speeches or elevator pitches entangle the message. Also, the quality of a person's work usually will not speak for itself if no one recognizes the brand. Cultivating relationships and connecting people lets others see you as an influencer, and then they recognize your power for their cause.
Influence or power can be a learned behavior to command attention, not control but influence. Therefore, this bold initiative formed with the educator I spoke with recently can be successful with meaningful engagement. Becoming a trusted advisor or a thought leader creates the synergy needed to influence boards and committees to execute change. But likeability is also a factor. They must first notice you, then like you, and then listen to begin buying into your message and executing the plan. Influencing and networking lead to relationships that introduce change. We can choose to change local knowledge within our community or engage and leverage power to change the world. Depending on the culture, different levels of influence may be needed to engage and signal visionaries that you are powerful and focused on inspiring strategic change. Power becomes a force of strength, not control. You want to be seen as powerful but not have power over people. It is all about what you say and how you say it that determines the perception of your strength to influence. If you want to implement change quickly, inspire calm confidence with focused visionaries, and you will be seen and heard.
Who do you plan to influence today, your colleagues, family, community friends?
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Copyright all materials, 2017