Whether it’s at home, at work, at play, or anywhere in between, our influence on those around us will fall into three categories:
Situational Influence – People follow you because they have to. Position and authority most often determine this kind of influence. A political leader, for example, or a CEO, or a school teacher, or a traffic cop. This is the most common type of influence, based on position, title and authority. It is influence bequeathed, not personally earned, and exercising it can be done lazily because following is not a choice. When people are forced or compelled to follow you in a particular situation, the most you will ever get out of them is compliance. And as Dondi Scumaci likes to say, “Compliance will never take you where commitment can go.”
If you are an influencer who has a position of authority, step back and ask yourself this question:
-Outside of this situation, do I still have influence over these people?
The answer will tell you what type of influence you hold.
Temporary Influence – People follow you because of what you’ve done. Maybe you just hit the game-winning home run, or you led the way out of a burning building. Or perhaps you have front row tickets for “Wicked.” All of those are great things that attract attention and cause others to want to be involved, however peripherally, but to be truly influential we need to continue to perform at a high level or we will not continue to have strong influence.
An example of temporary influence would be a salesperson who gets a strong recommendation. The endorsement from a trusted source provides temporary influence with the potential client that opens the door. To turn that influence into a relationship, however, can’t be based on past performance; it has to be based on current performance and results.
Lasting Influence – People follow because of who you are and how you treat them. Lasting influence is what every leader, salesperson, teacher, speaker, friend or mentor seeks. It is grounded in consistency of character.
With this type of influence, no one is forced or compelled to follow you.
Instead, they choose to follow you because they buy into you and find worth in your leadership. Regardless of the situation, there is influence. It is not situational and it is not temporary, because you continually provide value.
Situational Influence and Temporary Influence can turn into Lasting Influence, but only when the important ingredient of integrity is permanently added.
Integrity is defined as wholeness, completeness; living a life of integrity means a life of honesty and honor. And therein lies the key to real influence. It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “I cannot find language of sufficient energy to convey my sense of the sacredness of private integrity.” Warren Buffett put it another way: “I look for three things in hiring people. The first is personal integrity, the second is intelligence, and the third is a high energy level. But, if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.”