Influence: The New Currency for Success

Someone asked me recently for advice on raising your profile at work. It was such a good question, I wanted to share it with you. I thought about it from the standpoint of how do you get noticed and recognized for your talents in ways that aren’t a “power grab” or “kissing up” to the boss.

I see the new currency at work being “influence.”  Influence is the ability to alter others’ thoughts, beliefs or actions. While effectively influencing others is increasingly important as you become a leader and executive, influence can be exerted at any level within the organization.  It is a way to raise your profile that is outside of the traditional hierarchy of the organization, and can take on a variety of forms.

Influence Through Persuasion

This is the perception of persuasion that I deal with most, as it is one of the Social & Emotional Intelligence competencies, that along with several others (Catalyzing Change, Empathy, Communication, Building Trust), contribute to one’s ability to effectively build consensus and support.  By being able to persuade others, you can lead change and spearhead initiatives, which help you become more visible within the organization.  If there are larger changes afoot in the organization, you can use these skills to support leadership in getting the team’s buy-in to the new direction, which will make your manager’s job easier.

Ideas to increase your influencing skills through persuasion:

  1. Get a Social & Emotional Intelligence assessment to identify your current strength in Powerful Influence and related competencies, and get coaching on those that can be improved.
  2. Speaking skills and presentation skills can impact your ability to influence others.  Consider taking a class or joining an organization such as Toastmasters to hone these skills in a supportive environment.

Influence Through Expertise

People can be influential without realizing it when they hold a degree of expertise or specialized knowledge that others need in order to make an informed decision.  You become influential when you are sought out for your information, ideas, or opinions as an expert advisor.

Ideas to increase your influence through expertise:

  1. Find a specific issue or topic and gain deep knowledge about it by reading, interviewing experts, and other research.
  2. Become a “hub” of relevant information in a field by developing a strong, connected professional network.

Influence Through Thought Leadership

Finally, those who are at the forefront of new innovations, ideas, and technology that will lead changes in their industry or specialty will influence others by being one of the early adopters or visionaries.  Others eventually need to follow significant new developments, and by staying in touch with the cutting edge of methodologies and technologies that affect your business, you can impact change and initiatives within the organization.

Ideas to increase your influence in thought leadership:

  1. Look at what is going on in technology or other industries, and imagine how it could be applied to improve your product, company, or industry.
  2. Embrace even the “scary” changes in your field, and learn to look at them as opportunities rather than challenges.

If you are ready to get noticed and be recognized for your talents, increasing your influence in the organization can help you achieve your goals, regardless of your current level or title.  Look for areas on which to focus that align with your expertise and personal brand at work, and your career aspirations. When you become an influencer at work, your profile will be raised because you will not only be leading change and initiatives, but will be sought out by others to advise on strategic plans.   And increasing your skills in influencing others is also a key competency for effective leadership, so you will be contributing to your long-term critical skill set.