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Becoming a Person of Influence

Influencing people is what I do every day as a training professional and as a manager. I do it through the curriculum I design; through conversations with customers, co-workers, and vendors; through the questions I ask and the questions I answer; through the emails I send; through the actions I take; and in just about everything I do every day. It is one of the greatest assets any employee contributes to an organization – their ability to influence the organization in a positive way.

Four ways stand out to me for becoming a person of influence, especially for trainers and supervisors.

Become a person of influence

1. Have something to offer and be bold enough to offer it. To be an influential person, I first have to have some information, some expertise, or some perspective to offer. Time and action are required to build knowledge, expertise, and perspective, so investing in continual learning and exposing myself to new situations and people will help me build something of value to offer others.

Of course, even a young child can offer a new perspective as long as they are bold enough to speak out. I have to have the boldness to share my perspective, ask the searching question, offer an alternative, or just reach out with a generous offer to help. I must use my emotional intelligence (and continue developing it) to decide when something should be offered publicly or in private. And I choose words that are constructive and helpful rather than destructive and counter-productive.

As a trainer or supervisor, you have a perspective on work that is important to your organization. You hear and see what the front-line employees are experiencing and can influence them by presenting the company’s perspective as well as being the voice of the front-line to the rest of the organization. The same is true with the customers that contact your center. Be a conduit of valuable information flowing in both directions. Be bold in asking pertinent questions that make people think and in offering constructive suggestions for helpful changes.

2. Walk the talk. As a trainer or supervisor, people look to you to see how they should act. But you never know when people may be looking, so you have to consistently act with integrity and character. I define integrity as my actions and words aligning with my values and intentions. My values and intentions flow out of my character.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership talks about being a person walking through vats of clay. You never know when you might trip or fall into a vat and leave an impression so you always have to be on your toes. (Which always makes me think of Hans Solo encased in carbonite with a look of horror on his face.) So when I advise someone of a best practice, I’m always aware that I need to be following that best practice, too, because my actions speak far louder than my words. If I instruct an agent in handling difficult customers, I better be prepared to observe those guidelines when I am dealing with a difficult situation, no matter if I think people can see me or not. I have to practice what I preach (or walk the talk) to be a person of influence.

3. Take time for people. I have to admit that I am more task-oriented than people-oriented. But people are still important to me, and they are sometimes vital for getting my tasks completed. To be a person of influence, I have to intentionally take the time for people. I have to listen very closely, focusing on them rather than thinking about what I want to say. I have to seek to see the world through their eyes rather than my own. In other words I have to actively listen. Then I need to respond constructively. It is not about me but about what helps others. I cannot be an effective trainer or supervisor unless I take time for people, which helps me become a person of influence for others, for myself, and for the organization.

4. Do stuff that matters. In other words, produce results. When people see that I deliver effective results, they are more likely to look to me for more results, for advice, for a role model, and I become more influential. Of course if what I’m producing is inconsequential (such as a pile of twisted paperclips on my desk) or is harmful (such as spreading malicious gossip), then I dilute my influence. So I have to put my energies into the stuff that matters to people and to the organization to build my influence.

Every employee can be a person of influence… or not. As a supervisor or trainer it is critical that you are a person of good influence to those you supervise and train, influencing them in how they perform their jobs and influencing the organization for the benefit of front-line employees, customers, and the organization itself. Think about the things you do every day and work on building the consistency, patience, commitment, and persistence that are needed for becoming a person of influence.