I have been amazed by the many positive comments about the TEDx speech I gave several years ago in Princeton called “Intelligent Influence.” This talk focused on one of the most important words in the world that, amazingly, is “hidden in plain sight.” The word “Influence” is used in conversations virtually every day by millions of people around the world who have not taken the time to understand the meaning and potential of this very powerful concept.
I believe that positive strategic influence is the secret to leadership and organizational success in today’s complicated business environment. My research on influence led me to develop a concept called Intelligent Influence® that is tailor-made for the business (and human interaction) realities of the 21st century. This unique leadership and strategy framework, which consists of four components, has the potential to change how people interact (especially in the business world). This approach has been so well received that I founded an international management consulting firm named Strategic Influence, LLC that has successfully helped executives, corporations, government agencies and nonprofits effectively utilize Intelligent Influence to achieve extraordinary success.
This concept is extremely useful when you apply it to your career goals and objectives. The first component, “Influence AwarenessTM”, is understanding how an individual or group is influenced. Think about the person, events or things that influenced you to pursue your current career or develop a passion for a particular hobby or even sports team. We all do what we do, like what we like and accomplish what we accomplish because of influence.
The second component, “Influence ImpactTM”, is understanding how an individual or group currently influences others. Take a minute or two to think about the influence that you have on others at home, at work and in your community? Ask yourself the question “How am I currently influencing my boss, co-workers, subordinates, family and friends?” My research indicated that there are six distinct types of Intelligent Influence. These are: Authority InfluenceTM, Belief InfluenceTM, Inspiration InfluenceTM, Reputation InfluenceTM, Resource InfluenceTM and Thought InfluenceTM. It is essential that you explore the extent to which you have each of these types of influence at home and work.
The third component, “Influence ManagementTM”, is proactively managing how you are influenced based on your analysis of your current influence (or lack thereof). Every person should identify their developmental goals and write down a plan to get the Internal InfluenceTM (training, mentoring, etc.) they need to accomplish their External InfluenceTM (personal and professional) goals. Make sure that you have Influence Integration and spend time being influenced by people who think very differently than you do. This means that HR executives should spend time with engineers, sales persons should spend time with finance executives and CEOs should spend time with front line workers.
The fourth and final component “Influence MaximizationTM,” is maximizing influence by connecting the three Caldwell Spheres of InfluenceTM that in combination are the secret behind the success of all influential individuals and organizations. The first sphere, “Credibility,” represents the influence that motivates people to take a person or organization seriously. The second sphere, “Creativity,” represents the influence that makes people respect an individual or organization because of their innovative approach and ideas. The third and final sphere, “Connection,” represents the influence generated when a person or organization makes an emotional connection with a person in a significant enough way to get them to follow the person or buy a product.
When a leader or organization can demonstrate each of these three types of influence in combination they can accomplish extraordinary things. The Intelligent Influence framework anchored by Influence Maximization occurs in every sector of society with both individuals and organizations. In business the three spheres of influence account for the extraordinary success of companies like Apple, McDonalds, Nike and Coca-Cola. For example, when Coke was the number one soft drink it had Credibility because of its long storied history; Creativity because of its “secret formula”; and, Connection because of the very successful “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing®” commercials which has resonated emotionally with millions of people over the years. Coca-Cola has been the number one brand because of their ability to demonstrate the three spheres of influence consistently over many years.
If you are serious about becoming an exceptional leader (or just having extraordinary relationships) you must identify the influences that shaped who you are (Influence Awareness); honestly assess your current influence strengths and weaknesses (Influence Impact); develop a career (and life) plan that identifies your influence-based developmental needs (Influence Management); and, demonstrate credibility, creativity and connection to maximize the influence that you have on the people who determine the level of success you have in both your life and your career (Influence Maximization). Intelligent Influence is the secret of success in the complex, diverse and fast paced world of today. Are you ready to use this strategy to influence the world around you?