So then what exactly is influence?
Maybe the best place to start is what influence is not. Having studied influence and effectiveness for the majority of my adult life I find that many people have different thoughts and opinions as to what influence is. This opinion guides their actions and behaviours.
This can result in extremely ineffective approaches to influence others. This can lead to those same people tweaking the wrong parts of their influencing techniques and rather than become better influencers and more effective leaders and managers become less effective and less influential. This can lead to disastrous results.
So then, let me furnish you with my thoughts of what influence is not before we close with what exactly is influence. Resist the temptation to jump to end as this first section of insights can be more beneficial for the majority of people I have trained, coached and delivered keynote presentations to.
At the time of writing the word influencer is more synonymous with a social media icon leveraging their position of having a certain number of followers to buy certain items or in some instances behave in a certain way. Often, these followers have been attracted to their lifestyles, beliefs, clothes, and often aspire to be like them.
Being an ‘influencer’ whilst it is most commonly used in conjunction with a social media personality, commonly found on Instagram it is by no means reserved to that genre.
You can of course influence your friends, family and those around you without having a social media following. You can even influence yourself into behaving and acting in a certain way. This is called self-influence.
Without the weight of a social media following behind you you can still be an extremely effective ‘influencer’ in the real world, either in work or personal life.
Aside from a social media influencer, honing, fine tuning improving your influencing skills can help a wide range of people including but not exclusive to:
- Salespeople influence prospective customers
- Marketing consultants influence consumers
- Parents influence their children
- Coaches influence their players
- Managers influence their staff
- Leaders influence their followers
- Politicians influence their electorate
- Health professionals influence patients
By learning and applying the principles, models, methods and techniques I teach in my workshops, training sessions, keynote speeches and even here in my micro-masterclasses I guarantee you will become significantly more effective in your life.
All the principles and techniques I share within my micro-masterclasses and in my book Effective Influence are supported by peer reviews, experiments, studies and research can help you create the life you desire, help you attain your dreams and goals, and essentially bring increased joy into your life.
By understanding the underpinning science behind influence helps us to us understand why we act and behave the way that we do, why we react differently in different situations to others, and why we buy or follow certain trends, fashions and more.
Whilst one can certainly gain great rewards and benefits from becoming a more effective influencer for some people, applying certainly techniques can be perceived as manipulative. This is often due to their lack of understanding of what influence the behaviour they have been witnessing have come across as unethical.
Influence, much like manipulation is a neutral term but has sadly has had some negative connotations linked to it. You could liken influence to a robot, technology or even a surgeons knife in that they can all be used to both save lives or destroy lives. The same can be said with influence.
When people use a certain skill set for bad, then that word takes on a negative meaning. One example of this is the word or notion of the ‘Occult’. Historically, spiritual gurus used the methodologies used in the Occult for good but it slowly it became used for evil over time and then glamorised in movies.
So whilst the word ‘manipulation’ may have negative connotations, if you are trying to manipulate someone who has lung cancer to stop smoking as an example, this has the potential for a positive outcome. We generally lend the word ‘manipulation’ to the action of when someone is using their influence to achieve selfish means.
Influence, in comparison to pre-meditated manipulation does not do use psychological manipulation or sneaky tricks, nor does it involve using bribes, subterfuge, or deceit to get your desired result or goal.
In fact the most effective approach to influence or persuasion is to place other people’s wants, needs and desires on an equal footing to your own. Place them in a position where you want to and would love to be able to help, serve and support them in any way possible. With this in mind, any approach to influence will be both authentic and welcomed.
What is influence then?
Influence, in its most distilled form is essentially ‘conveying a set of values through leading by example. It is these values that can affects or ‘influence’ the opinions, actions and behaviours of others’.
For example, if you are a sports star in the public spotlight, if you adhere to the rules of etiquette on and off the pitch in both your personal and public life, you can influence others around you to aspire to be like you.
Conversely the same is true. If you don’t meet or convey these same set of values (often underpinned by integrity) and your reputation becomes blemished then you will soon see that you level of influence recedes. One example of this fall from grace and resultant influential status would be Tiger Woods.
He is widely regarded as one of the greatest golfers and if not, athletes of all time. As a result of his sporting success, he commands a wide portfolio of sponsorship deals. Many brands and companies compete to be associated with the Tiger Woods brand. Tiger’s brand had originally been built around himself as a elite athlete from a young age, with a graceful approach to the sport and a respectable private life.
The fact that so many brands wanted to sponsor and support him, speaks volumes of the level of influence he held over his fans and others who may not necessarily follow golf. With this knowledge and commanding position that Tiger held for many years these same sponsors knew they would have an extremely high return on their sponsorship investment.
However, when, in 2010 after a series of alleged extra marital affairs and a drink driving car accident, several of Tiger’s sponsors severed ties with him and his brand due to his integrity being tarnished. Over the course of that same year, AT&T, Accenture, Gatorade and Gillette were some of the most high profile brands that dropped their sponsorship deals with him due to his tarnished image.
Not only do a sport’s stars values influence their supporters and fans, but detrimental actions and behaviours such as the ones detailed above can influence people’s opinions of the brands or sponsors that they align themselves with. In Tiger Woods’ case, AT&T, Accenture, Gatorade and Gillette all wanted to preserve their own image that they had carefully crafted for their followers and fans and left when this was was called into question at the idea they were supporting or endorsing a brand (Tiger Woods’) that did not reflect their own.
To learn more about how you can supercharge your own ability to influence others around you, or to discuss a hiring Duncan as a keynote speaker to present at your conference or event or deliver one of his workshops to your team get in touch using the button below: