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In a world yearning for hope and change, the need for role models to use their influence for good has never been more pressing.   But the world has transformed. No longer is influence the exclusive domain of the rich and famous, you don’t need the stature of a Prime Minister or the financial clout of a wealthy CEO to make a difference.

The power of change is in the hands of everyday individuals, there’s a growing recognition that each of us possesses the potential to ignite transformation. Tools like the internet have leveled the playing field, granting ordinary people the ability to voice their opinions, rally communities, and set wheels of change in motion.

Think of Malala Yousafzai or the #MeToo movement. In this landscape of shifting paradigms, it’s crucial to understand the types of power that amplify your capacity to influence, and more importantly, how to harness them effectively.

But what exactly are the types of power that amplify your capacity to influence?

What types of power increase your influence?

Social psychologists John French and Bertram Raven discovered that there are six types of influential power and, of those, there are two that everyone has the ability to harness regardless of their standing.

1. Expert Power: The Might of Knowledge

Expert Power stems from possessing advanced knowledge in a specific subject. It bestows the power of trust, as people regard you as an authority in your field, seeking your guidance and wisdom. To nurture this power, embark on a continuous journey of learning:

  • Enrol in courses.
  • Devour books and articles.
  • Attend conferences.
  • Find mentors who challenge your assumptions and broaden your horizons.

2. Referent Power: The Force of Respect and Likability

Referent Power is utilised by individuals who are well-liked and respected within their communities. This type of power is yours to harness if you are known and admired in your sphere of influence. To cultivate Referent Power, adhere to these principles:

  • Lead with unwavering integrity.
  • Dedicate yourself to excellent work.
  • Foster robust relationships.
  • Champion bold actions.

As change-makers, we can actively develop these powers to influence our workplaces and communities. The challenge lies in leading not through authority, fear, or demands but through something even more potent—shared values.

Shared values serve as guiding beliefs that unite groups and organisations, inspiring change and sustaining commitment to causes. They are beliefs that ignite passion, steer actions, and help define identities. Crucially, these emotionally charged convictions provide leaders with the fuel to sway their followers.

The Influence of the Collective

Influence can also be created in joining together as a collective force. Teams, communities, and movements are prime examples of the remarkable influence that unity can bring. When people rally around shared values and objectives, their combined strength becomes greater than the sum of their individual efforts. It’s within these collective endeavours that societal shifts, cultural revolutions, and systemic changes often find their roots. The power of the collective empowers individuals to amplify their voices, pool resources, and mobilise toward a common purpose. From civil rights movements to environmental initiatives, history showcases numerous instances where groups of individuals, united by their vision for a better world, have harnessed the potency of the collective to enact lasting change.

Harnessing Emotions for Influence

Harvard Business researcher Dr. John P. Kotter, asserted that many people falter in their pursuit of influence because they rely solely on logic, convinced that facts alone will sway others. However, research shows that emotional appeals can be more persuasive.  This is because the part of our brain responsible for decision-making is intricately linked with emotions. To influence effectively, you must not merely inform but also evoke feelings. Your ability to influence and catalyze change hinges on how you make people feel.

So, how can you utilise these avenues of power in your everyday life?

1. Speak Up and Raise Awareness

Consider how you your communicate with acquaintances, friends, family, and colleagues. Can you raise awareness about a particular issue? Can you support an event by sharing it? Explore ways to elevate your voice, be it through social media, in your workplace, or within your circle of friends.

2. Share Your Expertise

Can you deploy your knowledge, networks, and expertise to support a cause by participating in a community organisation or serving on a board?  Use your knowledge, skills and experience to support the causes you want.

3. Consumer Power

Every purchase you make wields influence. Carefully choose businesses and brands that contribute positively to the world.  Everything from what you buy at the supermarket, to gifts and presents to bigger purchases.  Brands like Thank You, Who Gives a Crap or Patagonia are not only best in the world, they are best for the world too.  We have a choose to support organisations that support people and the planet – don’t miss out on this opportunity.

4. Philanthropy

You don’t have to be rich and famous to make a donation.  Start by thoughtfully allocating a percentage of your earnings to a charitable cause.  We can all use our dollars to make a social impact in the world, and better yet, join a collective giving circle to amplify your impact but coming together with others.

5. Leverage Your Resources

Examine the resources at your disposal. Can you encourage your workplace to support a charity? Offer a space for an event or meeting? Utilize your profile to galvanize support for a cause?

Many individuals underestimate their innate capacity to influence. We live in an era of unprecedented access—to knowledge, platforms for voicing opinions, and resources. The power to bring about change lies literally at our fingertips.

One on One Influence

Influence is not about being the loudest, bossiest or wealthiest.  In a Harvard Business Review article, Ben Laker and Charmi Patel outlined the strategies to enhance your one-on-one influence:

1. Build Rapport:

Strengthen interpersonal connections and trust with those you seek to influence. Take the time to get to know them on a deeper level. Discover their purposes and passions in life, and contemplate how you can support them.

2. Be an Active Listener:

Effective influence isn’t merely about telling people what to do or buy; it’s about understanding what motivates them. To do this, you must first listen to their aspirations, understand their motivations, and show empathy. Cultivate the skill of asking insightful questions and genuinely listening.

3. Be Focused and Set an Example:

You cannot successfully influence someone to change if you have not made that change yourself. Sharing your own experiences and demonstrating how the change you embraced could benefit them is often the most effective way to influence.

Now, ask yourself: Are you ready to step up and embrace your everyday influence? Your potential to effect change is greater than you can imagine. Harness the power of shared values, emotions, and these practical avenues to make a meaningful impact on the world around you.

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