Influence is one of the core elements of both leadership and personal branding. It is impossible to be a leader or have a powerful personal brand if you are not able to influence others. Now what does it really mean to be influential? What is influence? And I am not referring to the concept of “influencers” but really to the broad concept of influence.
I like to define influence as the ability of a person to get another or other people to change their way they think and / or their way they behave. Therefore, there will be no influence if there is no change (whether of thought or action). Consequently, there will be no leadership and personal branding if changes are not promoted. Obviously it is easier to change the thought than the actions (Ex: it is much easier to be convinced that you have to go to the gym 3 times a week (thought) than then really going there (action).
But on what does influence depend? What are the habits of really influential people? One of the people who have studied the subject of influence more and better is Professor Cade Massey of Wharton University. After years of scientific study on influence, he concludes that the most influential people share these 7 habits:
- They are very attentive to their environment: they like to be very attentive to what is happening around them and to the changes that may occur. They constantly analyze their environment from different points of view. They know when to act and when not.
- They have the interests of others in mind: they bet on allocentrism, the opposite of egocentrism, that is, they focus their attention and their actions on other people instead of on themselves. Furthermore, they are convinced that the greater what they offer to others, the greater they will obtain from them.
- They are willing to compromise: they are flexible and adaptable people. They are good negotiators and highly pragmatic. They are fully convinced that, if they do not make concessions, they will not achieve their objectives.
- Cultivate your relationships before needing them: it is one of the basic rules of good networking. As Professor Massey often says, “You intentionally work your networking, but manage your relationships in an uninterested or intentional way”.
- They have the meetings before the meetings: it is about preparing in advance the meetings you are going to hold. The most influential look for allies, gather information beforehand, imagine how the meeting can evolve …
- They do not accept the circumstances as they arrive: they rebel against the situation that they do not like. They try to change the circumstances; they are not satisfied and they look for ways to be able to modify the circumstances
- They see the world as it is … and as they want it to be: they are people who combine realism with optimism. As Cade Massey himself explains “realism without ambition is sterile and ambition without realism is totally irresponsible”.
These are important habits. They are not specific actions or concrete strategies. These are actions that are developed frequently and routinely by the most influential people. So, to develop great leadership and great personal brand you must follow these 7 habits.
I close with Professor Massey’s final reflection on the concept of influence: “being right is not enough; following your morals is not enough; working hard is not enough. To achieve great challenges, you will need all these 7 habits of influence”.