After years of studying influence, I knew the definition by rote—or I thought I did. I’ve always seen influence defined in this way: Influence is the ability to get work done with and through people—without formal authority.
A statement in a blog entry by Mike Myatt pulled me up short: Influence is built on making others successful. Wow—that’s succinct and clear and TRUE!
Classic ways of thinking about influence as getting work accomplished without authority focus on building a base of expertise; building credibility; achieving connection with influential people and sources of information; lending a hand when necessary; appealing to people’s values and convictions; etc. All these actions are important, but they can be summed up in the simple approach: Influence is built on making others successful.
Think about it: We admire people who make us successful. We are attracted to them. And we will do anything we can to support their goals and aspirations.This definition allows us to have a lofty and selfish goal at the same time. Make a commitment to contribute to someone else’s success every day. You’ll grow as an admirable person and also as someone who has influence—the ability to get things done without formal authority.