Sometimes power can go to your head.
We can certainly see this when the behaviour is exhibited by others. Have you ever worked with a peer in your team who was then promoted to a more senior position, only to end up seeing them release their inner tyrant? They suddenly get a taste of that power and before you know it, they have alienated all they work with. However this trait is less obvious when we turn our introspection inward.
When we speak to staff, what are the qualities that they say make the most influential people in their work environment. They certainly do not claim it is the people who shout, gossip, manipulate, berate or bully others. So what does positive leadership, positive influence and positive power actually look like?
We usually only see someone’s external behaviour. We see them speak their mind, make necessary on the spot decisions, advance quickly within an organisation etc. But what is it that we are not seeing? Where is all that confidence coming from?
These influential people are focused and are driven by habits that they practice religiously. You can also practice these habits.
So what characteristics do influential people emulate?
They are mentally tough.
Mental Toughness is a personality trait that determines your ability to perform consistently under stress and pressure, and is closely related to qualities such as character, resilience, grit and perseverance.
Professor Peter Clough, Professor of Applied Psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University and a pioneer on research into Mental Toughness further describes a mentally tough person as “someone who is comfortable in their own skin, can take whatever comes along in their stride and mostly enjoy the challenge”.
Mental Toughness isn’t being macho or uncaring or self-centred – it is about being tough in the sense of not giving up and being confident that you can prevail, even if the odds are stacked against you.
Could you increase your Mental Toughness?
They don’t wait for a title to lead
A title can give you authority, but it can’t give you power. On the other hand, you don’t need a title to be influential.
You can lead without being a boss and you can have a powerful influence upon your workplace and community without a title. Leaders can often tap into unofficial leadership potential. Encouraging this leadership is a huge advantage to the team.
They are never satisfied with the status quo.
They’re graciously disruptive
They’re the ones who constantly ask, “What if?” and “Why not?” A key element of Mental Toughness is a person’s ability to see a challenge as an opportunity. They’re not afraid of change or trying something different to make an improvement.
They think for themselves
An influential person is not swayed by public opinion and by what is popular. They can make up their own mind. They form their opinions carefully, based on the facts that they themselves observe and can see objectively. They have no issue admitting when they are wrong and to change their mind when the facts support a new direction.
They see conflict for what it is – an opportunity
Often people fall on one side of the fence or the other. They may be passive and avoid conflict at all costs, often backing down their position to avoid any disgruntlement from others. Alternatively, when faced with conflict, they behave in an aggressive way, locking horns with whatever other bull is willing to spar with them.
But a person with influence does neither. They do not let their emotions get the better of them. They often welcome difference of opinion as a wonderful opportunity to engage in meaningful debate and problem solving. They are humble enough to know that they don’t know everything and that someone else might see something they missed. And if that person is right, they embrace the idea wholeheartedly, because they care more about the end result than being right.
They know their strengths and weaknesses
People are often blind to their own weaknesses. To become truly powerful, you have to see yourself as you really are and to position yourself to use your strengths to enhance relationships. That means taking a clear-eyed look at your strengths and your weaknesses and owning them both completely.
There is strong scientific foundation to have a strengths focus. When we identify our strengths and focus on nurturing what we are naturally good at, we gain significant benefit. Research demonstrates when we use our strengths we are more confident, have higher self-esteem, greater levels of energy, are more resilient and are much more likely to reach our goals.
Using your strengths helps you to personally develop and grow. You find you are often more engaged at work and in your relationships.
Truly powerful people know how to make lasting connections.
They ask for help when they need it
It’s easy to mistakenly assume that a person with influence never asks for help from anybody. But exactly the opposite is true. Asking for help when you don’t know the answer is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength.
It takes a tremendous amount of confidence and also humility to admit that you need assistance. There is nothing worse than going miles in the wrong direction, only to lament later why you didn’t stop and ask for directions sooner.
They Visualise success
People with influence use the power of visualisation to see what they want to achieve. They believe nothing is out of their reach and their self belief generates powerful goal setting opportunities and they “stretch” themselves.
They firmly believe that one person can change the world. After all – isn’t there evidence of this all around us.
They Don’t put it off
If they can do it today, that’s when it gets done. They don’t wait until the right opportunity comes along, or second guess themselves. The only way to strengthen a muscle is by using it. So they do regular weightlifting of their goals and put them into action.
The only way you can exert your influence is to get out there amongst it. So you just need to convince yourself to “Go For It”.
So consider - what habits could you start engaging in to exert your influence more widely? It may be worthwhile to start by examining your bad habits and consider how you could exert your influence in a completely different way. After all – the choice is yours.
Contact Michelle Bakjac on 0412047590 to consider goal setting to increase your influence.