One of my priorities for the new year is to really study what it means to be an influencer. The good news is that there doesn’t appear to be any lack of material on the topic. Over the past couple years, I’ve read two books related to influence:
– Influencer: The Power to Change Anything by Kerry Patterson (and others)
– The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas by G. Richard Shell, Mario Moussa
I liked each book – but they both focused primarily on how to get unwilling people to do what you want. While exerting your will is certainly one path to influence, I believe that the essence of influence is about more than Machiavellian tactics. It’s about working collaboratively to find the optimal solution to a problem.
The issue with more dictatorial approaches to influence is that you might not have all the information you need to make the best decision. Influence is just as much about structuring a problem, listening and learning, and working through issues as it is about telling people what to do.
However, being too collaborative is also problematic. Inviting everyone to make a collective decision can promote team engagement, but it can also take a long time and cause unnecessary organizational churn.
One of my goals for 2013 is to learn more about influence.
Perhaps I can start here – what do you think it means to be an influencer?