To be successful in your career, you need to be able to influence other people. This involves developing personal power. You will want people to think positively about what you do, listen and accept your ideas and also do things that you need them to do. This can include influencing someone to give you a job or promotion, delivering a key project where you need their input and help or even advocating your skills and talent to other more senior people. Little can be achieved without the ability to influence others.
One of the key ways of growing greater influence is to focus on building your personal power. Power doesn’t equal politics, so you don’t need to become a Machiavellian character to introduce more power into your career — nor do you need to betray your integrity!
In a nutshell…
- Influence is the outcome of people doing something they would not otherwise do.
- Power is something about you which motivates people to be influenced by you.
- Politics are the behaviours which people use to influence others (either positive or negative).
Focusing your development on generating increasing levels of personal power will mean that, over time, you will become less dependent on the use of politics to create influence and success in your career. People with power don’t need to be overly political, even though they sometimes are!
Inevitably, if you want to grow your personal power, you need to understand the mechanics or Principles of Power. Once you master these, you will quickly begin to notice what you need to do to exert more influence.
But, you can get going right now by asking yourself this question:
What makes you powerful right now?
Gaining clarity about this, or rather, why people may be inclined to do what you want them to do, will help you to realise more opportunities in your career. Here are some examples of what can make an individual powerful…
- Position on a particular project board
- Ability to veto or sign off proposals
- A friendly and fun personality
- Qualifications, skills and experience
- Good relationships with key people around the organisation
- Being very tall and/or attractive (sometimes ugly and menacing works!)
- Positive public profile
- In a position to provide help and support
There are many more sources of power because this is personal. Although there are typical power sources like money and resources, looking at what you currently have can help you to turn up the volume on particular assets/attributes you have which encourages people to be influenced by you. To discover your own portfolio of power, consider the following questions…
- Why do people do what you want them to do?
- What is it about you that wins people over to your ideas?
- When you are being successful, what is it that you do which gains cooperation from others?
- What connections do you have that people value?
- Is there something about your manner which sways people?
If you find it difficult to answer these, enlist the help of a friend or trusted colleague. In fact, do this anyway, because finding out why other people think you are powerful or influential can be very illuminating. It would also be worth thinking about other people around you and working out why you would do what they wanted you to do.
Once you have started to pin down your portfolio, consider which of these you could make more use of, which you could build on and other things which you would like to add into your unique mix of power.
In many ways, power is like the economics of supply and demand. The more you have of something which is scarce and wanted, the more useful that power will be to you. And don’t forget, as any great marketer will tell you, you’ve also got to find a way to let the market know what you’ve got to offer!
If you are interested in learning how to develop your personal power, take a look at my short video on the Principles of Power.
Colin Gautrey is an author, coach, and trainer who specialises in the practical use of power and influence in large organisations. He has 25 years’ experience helping middle/senior professionals to survive, thrive and enjoy their work.
If you are ready to develop your influencing capability, become a member of Breakthrough Influence. If you are serious about becoming highly influential, fast, engage with Colin and he will help you get there in the most effective way possible.
Other articles by Colin:
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