Simple Steps to Increase Your Influence

June 27, 2007

In today’s organizational environment, credibility and influence are more important than ever.  That’s why we should pay attention by research done by Kouzes and Posner over a 25-year period.  These authors asked people to give specific examples of what their most admired leaders did to gain their trust and respect.  They asked what leaders did that caused others to be willing to follow their lead, to be influenced by them.  Here are some of the most frequently mentioned behaviors:

  • Supported me
  • Had the courage to do the right thing
  • Challenged me

  • Acted as a mentor to others
  • Listened
  • Celebrated good work
  • Followed through on commitments
  • Trusted me
  • Empowered others
  • Made time for people
  • Admitted mistakes
  • Advised others
  • Taught well

Chances are you aren’t surprised by the answers—you already knew them.  Even so, it’s worth reflecting on the fact that these behaviors are all about service and integrity.  A significant component of the power to influence comes from supporting others and helping them grow and develop.  A root of influence is the realization that “it’s NOT all about me.”  A second component of influence is connected to principled behavior.  People who do the right thing and deliver what they promise are likely to get cooperation when they make a request.

Perhaps now is a good time to make an assessment.  Think about your allocation of time in any given week.  How much time to you devote to the behaviors on this list versus the time you spend on technical aspects of your job?  Is it time for an adjustment?


Electing the President, Likeability and Your Future

June 15, 2007

Chances are  you ‘ve heard some people mention the importance of likeability for success in any field.  I first ran across this in a Harvard Business Review article by Robert Cialdini in 2001.  Cialdini maintained that likeability was a key factor (one of six) in a person’s ability to persuade. 

Tim Sanders has researched and popularized this idea in The Likeability Factor.  But some people believe they make decisions objectively, without emotion and without caring whether or not they like the person with whom they are doing business.  These folks might be surprised by a posting I found the other day. 

In this post, national correspondent, Bill Beaman shares his reflections on the candidicy of Mitt Romney.  Here are some excerpts:

“He’s smart.  He’s articulate….  But the most important thing he has going for him is that he’s so likeable. ”

“Since every Republican candidate this year is evoking Ronald Reagan, let’s use the 40th president as out standard here.  Reagan said any number of bizarre and contradictory things during his years in politics….  America forgave him for these sorts of gaffes and more–including, ultimately, Iran-contra.  Why?  They liked him so much as a person.  They liked his sunny optimism and his heartland America values….”

“Well, among the cast of characters running for president this go-round, no one is more darn wholesome than Mitt Romney.  No one projects optimism in quite the same “gosh, we can do it, folks” sort of way.” 

Finally, Beaman describes Mitt Romney as a “man with Reagan-style appeal, combined with gray matter.”  As I read it, Beaman is not saying likeability is the only factor, but he is saying it is a critical factor, one that could push a candidate over the edge to success.  He’s saying that people will take notice of Romney because he looks the part, he’s optimistic, and he’s likeable. 

Wow–this is a scary way to pick a president.  Research says Beaman is onto something real–likeability plays a huge role in your success or lack thereof.  What are your thoughts about this–regarding job interviews, cooperation in the workplace, promotions, etc.?  Fair or not, your likeability plays a critical role in your future. 

For another one of my articles on likeability, go to  Let me know what you think!

(To view the post by Beaman, go to )

Avoid this Stupid Mistake #2 Use a Tone You Haven’t Earned

June 6, 2007

Here’s the situation:  In my role of managing editor for an association magazine, I received a recommendation.  “One of our members made $100,000 dollars off one blog entry, my source said.  Get him to write an article.”  I contacted the member and requested an article that shared nuts and bolts of blogging as well as the story of his experience. 

The member e-mailed the article I requested.  I shocked to find that the tone of the article was arrogant and in-your-face.  Basically, it said, “this is what I’ve accomplished with blogging—why aren’t you blogging and getting these results?”  

Here’s the stupid mistake:  The tone this writer used reminded me of the voice of, Jeffrey Gitomer, whose syndicated column you may have read.  Gitomer is always in-your-face, and he’s quite successful.  In fact, Gitomer is well-loved within the association in question. 

The difference was that the author of the article on blogs is in his twenties, and his reputation is not established.  He didn’t provide helpful information to my readers, and he hadn’t earned the right to take a caustic tone.   

I may have asked for the article, but as an editor, I was under no obligation to publish it—and I didn’t. 

Here’s the solution:  When you have the opportunity to contribute as an expert, do so in a personable and humble way.  Provide real value that people can grab onto and use in practical ways.  Just because Jeffrey Gitomer or Donald Trump can get in people’s faces, don’t assume that you have the same right.  This is something very few people can get away with.  Those who can have earned the right.   

Stick with the old adage: you’ll get more flies with honey than vinegar.  If you ignore it, you might just have to eat some version of humble pie.