We also saw how leadership is all about influencing people. We also shared on how different people can be influenced and are willing to be influenced.
In this part I share some frequently-asked-questions (FAQs), and thoughts post focuses on 6 sources of influence commonly used in the workplace. It is for you to use the right one that is appropriate for the occasion.
- Is it true that lower-level employees respond to influence sources such as coercive and reward while higher level employees respond more to other sources?
To assume that certain forms of influence work better with different levels of employees is a mistake. Research does suggest that more technically or functionally competent individuals respond to expert and information influence. Also, newer or less capable employees tend to respond to positional, reward, and coercive influence. However, these are stereotypes and not true in all situations. So, keep an open mind and use all sources of influence available to you.
- It seems that by focusing on influence I’m manipulating people. Isn’t that unethical?
Managers accomplish work through others. Your role includes influencing them. Using influence would only be manipulation if you used that influence for unethical or unprincipled motives.
- Are there other sources of influence that I should consider when dealing with peers or superiors?
When dealing with colleagues or superiors, ask yourself, "How can I best work with this person?" and " What types of influence will they respond to most quickly?"
- What is the difference between “socialized influence” that I have heard about and the discussion of influence covered here?
Socialized influence is a "motive" (motives energize our personal actions), and this article is about our sources of influence or our basis of social influence.
- Aren’t there other sources of influence, such as the power I get from knowing or associating with important people?
You might think that's another source of influence, but the association is just a connection to another person who has one of the six sources identified in the research. Associating with others can be a way of increasing your influence.
How can I increase my influence?
Managers can increase their influence. Generally, influence that is used, grows. For example, the more you use recognition and rewards to influence behaviour, the more that your reward power is perceived and understood by others. Some specific and perhaps obvious ways to increase your influence are listed here.
- Coercive influence can be increased by making others aware of times you have used this influence in the past.
- Reward influence is enhanced when rewards and recognition are publicly given.
- Position influence can be emphasized my noting the differences in roles between yourself and others.
- Expert influence is built with your skills and knowledge of your craft.
- Information influence is increased with careful sharing, and sometimes by letting others know you have information, but are unable to discuss it. That can also build personal influence as it is a demonstration of your integrity.
- Personal influence is about building personal relationships.
Finding common ground is a place to start. Demonstrating that you genuinely care about people is important. Making time for people is probably the key here.
Managers have a limited amount of influence. Because it is valuable, leaders should guard against the erosion of their influence. Below are common ways managers can lose influence.
- Coercive influence can be lost if you threaten sanctions or discipline, but rarely deliver. People can perceive that you either do not really have the influence or you are unwilling to use it.
- Reward influence is most commonly lost by dispensing rewards evenly, regardless of performance or contribution.
- Position influence erodes if you fail to perform the functions that others perceive as the responsibilities of that position. This erosion often is related to loss of influence in other areas. For example, employees expect that managers will differentiate performance and reward accordingly.
- Failing to make that differentiation decreases reward influence and position influence.
- Expert and Information influence erode when you give expertise or information to people whose goals are not consistent with the organizational goals, or when you give them to everyone.
- Personal influence is the most difficult to build and easiest to lose. It is lost because of lack of attention to relationship or failure of character such as dishonesty or lack of trustworthiness.
Please do share your thoughts and feedback and I will be glad to learn from you.
**The author is an entrepreneur with two decades of senior leadership experience in India and Asia-Pacific and now runs Futureshift, a boutique consulting outfit that helps businesses chart their digital marketing strategy with the @ZMOTly framework to achieve impactful outcomes. He is available at firstname.lastname@example.org **