Whom do you intend to influence?
Most of us can look back at specific events in our lives and identify those people who were influential to us during those times. But can we look back and see those same kinds of events in the lives of others and see the ways in which we have influenced them? Better yet, can we tell a story about that influence without having to look back to realize it?
It is the difference between serendipity and intentionality, and intentionality is a hallmark of influential leaders.
So how can we be more intentional about influencing others?
I suggest 4 simple ways: Targeting those we want to influence, Establishing a relationship with them, Knowing what we have to offer and Selecting a destination.
First, we must be intentional about targeting those we want to influence. We must seek them. Whatever our selection criteria, influencing others is proactive, not reactive.
Second, we must be intentional about establishing a relationship with them. This sounds obvious, but influence requires more than just acquaintance. We must risk something of ourselves so that we not only know others, but are known by them. Not long ago, my friend Dave Rendall’s Freak Factor Blog cited ee cummings,
“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch.”
Only those who know us well can provide us with such insight consistently. Meaningful relationship yields meaningful influence. Being known yields opportunities to be influenced.
Third, we must be intentional about knowing what we have to offer. Once we have established a mutual relationship, do we seek to influence others through our subject matter expertise, our experiences, our altruism? We must be purposeful about the platforms from which we influence others, understanding that the way we influence one person or group might not be the way to influence another. The more we hone this self-awareness and practice it, the more powerful our influence becomes.
Fourth, we must be intentional in selecting a destination. To what end does our influence lead in the life of this individual or group? We must be able to answer that question emphatically, and we must prioritize our investments toward that end.
The rest of the ee cummings quote reads,
“Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”
Toward increasing our influence–intentionally.