Influence is the ultimate equalizer.

Contrary to popular belief, the ability to influence is not determined by position or power. You can assert power if you have the title or financial resources. But you cannot assert influence. It’s earned, one person at a time.

Others assign you influencer status internally, of their own free will. When they do, they’re willing to commit to your ideas and requests rather than to merely comply, evoking the principle of least effort.

Being influential is critical if you want to lead in our rapidly changing world. Decisions must be made faster and action taken more rapidly, while walls of resistance and resentment mount quickly as the Internet reveals what used to be concealed.

And the iceberg goes even deeper.

The Right Balance of Habits Matters


Connect

Connecting measures your social agility and empathy. You make it a priority to find common ground, respect others’ perspectives, and are mindful of the nuances of social interaction.

Why this habit helps you gain influence: People are likely to actively engage and make it a priority to interact with you. They tend to be more open with you and less guarded about their feelings.

Traits associated with this habit: Respectful, genuine, engaging

What happens when you’re weak at this habit? People may feel that you don’t respect their perspectives. They may respond by dodging, delaying, or outright ignoring your attempts to interact with them.

What happens if you overuse this habit? If you rely solely on connecting, people may label you as “all talk and no action.

Convey

Conveying measures your clarity and ability to frame messages. You simplify to amplify even the most complex information — without dumbing it down.

Why this habit helps you gain influence: If content is king, context is God. People gain a clear understanding of your message and are able to retain the key points. They are able to pass along accurate information to others.

Traits associated with this habit: Credible, articulate, conscientious

What happens when you’re weak at this habit? When you confuse, you lose. Doubt, skepticism, and misunderstandings increase.

What happens if you overuse this habit? If you rely solely on delivering information, but without the proper framework and context, people may label you as hard to follow and confusing.

Convince

Convincing measures how well you earn other people’s trust. You change minds and gain others’ lasting commitment, not merely their short-term compliance.

Why this habit helps you gain influence: People willingly follow your lead. They see you as a person who walks the talk, so they proactively seek your input and enlist others to take action, too.

Traits associated with this habit: Empowering, decisive, proactive

What happens when you’re weak at this habit? People may feel that you are either apathetic or overpowering. They may view you as lacking passion or dominating. They’ll comply if necessary, but they’ll withhold information from you and turn to the rumor mill.

What happens if you overuse this habit? If you rely solely on convincing, people may feel that you’re trying to dominate or control them. They may label you as a manipulator.


The Influence Illusion

The hidden issue in influence is the illusion that it has taken place. Most of us believe we’re influencing others when we’re merely persuading them. The distinction between influence and persuasion is crucial.

Persuasion is short-term. When you persuade, you’ve won a one-off victory, which feels good. But persuasion is provisional. Inefficient. And hollow. Once the triumph passes, you’re back to square one — playing another frustrating game of whack-a-mole, trying to talk people into supporting ideas, issues, and events that pop up again and again. It’s exhausting.

Influence is the long game. It’s the ability to elevate the people and conditions in your presence so that they sustain in your absence. It’s a higher state that leaders should not only aspire to, but must attain. Influencing with integrity saves you time, effort, and financial resources. Most importantly, it leads to critical thinking skills and better decision-making in a world that requires both.

What’s preventing you from becoming an influencer?

Become a stronger influencer by honing your skills in the three Cs: connect, convince, convey. Take the influence test to discover your strengths and pinpoint your skills gap.