There is a direct link between
persuasion and influence, yet they are not exactly the same
thing. Persuasion happens with a person purposely or subliminally
trying to get somebody else to agree with him or her. That is,
there is obvious and deliberate effort.
On the other hand, influence
happens when another person agrees with you, not because you
deliberately took the effort but because he or she has confidence
in you and believes your opinions and suggestions are of importance.
You hold a great influence in the way other people think, probably
because of your status or your reputation.
Leaders use both persuasion and
influence to manage the people under them. It doesn't matter
if this 'leader' is at the near bottom or the top part of the
organizational hierarchy. As long as there are people whose
job is to follow, there are people who lead - and the people
being led expect to be given a plan toward success. This can
be more effectively done using persuasive leadership strategies.
For the person who has the influence, it is his or her game
plan or program for success that is being sought and heeded.
It is a common misconception
that only those who belong to the senior management team can
come up with a vision for the company. In truth, studies show
that rank and file members often turn to their immediate bosses
to gain a sense of direction. Thus, even the small bosses can
have influence over their staff.
When we really think about it,
influence and power to lead are not exclusive to bosses. Anybody,
even the office janitor, has the capacity to affect how the
people around him or her think, feel, and act. If others view
your opinion as valuable and are willing to stop for a while
to listen to what you have to say, then you have influence over
For instance, toddlers are able
to influence their parents to buy them new toys just by being
cute and charming, and just by being kids. But if they attempt
to get what they want by throwing tantrums, that's another story.
It's called coercion and, well, just plain brattiness.
When you ask other people to
do something for you, regardless how politely you ask, they
will always ask "why." More often than not, they will
also be wondering how they will benefit from following you,
though most wouldn't say that out loud.
In order for you to influence
people or persuade them to give their agreement, you have to
be ready to justify the reason why what you want to happen should
happen. After this, you should be prepared to negotiate and
be open to compromise.
Some people confuse influence
with bribery because both involve the offering of something
to gain favor. However, it should be made clear that bribery
always involves a payback or an offer, while influence can happen
even without anything on the table. Influence can be based on
good faith alone.
To be an effective leader, not
only will you need to be good at persuading people, you must,
at least, have enough charisma to influence them without much
effort. The key to good management is to have people who will
willingly listen to you and follow (sometimes without question
or hesitation). You want to lead without having to coerce others
to follow. If you have influence, order in the ranks will not
be a problem.
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