In his bestselling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey explains that truly effective people who expand their influence live a life focused on things that they can change—their circle of influence—and not things they have no power over, which can be categorized in a circle of concern. He says:
Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase.
Great tip! And here are some others that will help you to both live within that circle and expand your influence simultaneously!
1. Be proactive.
Expanding influence is not something that happens to people who sit still. Your influence cannot change if you remain in the same patterns and habits that you currently have, or surround yourself with the same people. Being deliberate and proactive about trying new things, forming new connections, and meeting new people are all ways to become more influential.
2. Be a good listener.
Most people see great speakers as influential people. But that is just the end result, as influential people must first be good listeners. Improving your listening skill allows you to collect new information, build trust and rapport, and makes it easier for others to align with your causes.
3. Stay consistent.
Consistency will be a catalyst for your influence. However, realize that both consistency and inconsistency will accelerate your influence, either in a positive or negative direction. Consistent people are reliable and are the first ones trusted with new tasks, ideas, projects, and responsibilities.
4. Practice empathy.
Being able to recognize, understand, and share in the emotions and experiences of another person gives you the ability to relate to people on their level. You become a more caring individual who is in tune with the feelings and attitudes of the people surrounding you. And when you can relate to someone, you can influence them, though careful not to manipulate the feelings and emotions you were trusted with.
5. Seek for solution.
Problems ask for solutions. People who are seeking to expand their influence seek ways to be the solution to whatever problem or quandary is current and valid. And when you are associated with solutions, you will be the first person called, the first person asked to consult, and the first option to resolve issues.
6. Accept responsibility.
Good leaders and influential people must learn to accept responsibility, and as the old adage states, “take blame when things go wrong, and give credit when things go as planned.” Taking responsibility for your actions and even for the actions of those people you manage allows you to expand your influence by building the trust others have in you and your word.
7. Appreciate others.
A simple THANK YOU goes a long way in person and even further when done publicly. Choose to recognize the efforts of others and lift them up as shining examples for others to see. By doing so you are influencing others by reinforcing what works and what was done right. We all want to be valued and appreciated.
8. Have a vision.
Seeking to expand your influence without having a defined goal to work towards will have you influencing people to move in circles. Leaders and influential people need a goal and a direction in order to put their clout to proper use. Without a goal, people may follow your lead for a short time, but the facade will eventually fall apart.
9. Ask the right questions.
Don’t ask why something is happening, ask how you can make it better.
Ask questions like:
How can I leave this situation better than I found it?
How can I meet and get to know new people?
How can I help and inspire the people around me?
How can I be a solution in this situation?
10. Have passion, a fire for what you do.
It may not be true 100% of the time, but most times smoke is evidence of a fire. In the case of your quest to expand your influence, seeing evidence of your passion for your vision or progress towards whatever you are trying to accomplish will alert people to the fire inside. Your enthusiasm for what you do will also draw others alongside you in your quest.
11. Filter the information that you take in.
There is an information overload, an “infobesity” that exists in today’s society. As you expand your influence, realize that there will be information coming in from all sides and at all angles, but that not all of it is useful or well intended. Screening the TV shows and movies you watch, the books you read, and the people whose advice you take allows you to stay focused.
12. Increase your value through education.
Read and educate yourself on areas where you want to grow. If you feel as if you lack knowledge in a certain area, go out and get it! The wealth of information that is available can be a help just as much as it can be a hindrance. Take classes, read books, do training and anything else possible to round out and expand your life experience, and thus expand your influence.
13. Fine tune your skills.
Constantly work on mastering your skill set. Influential people are not mediocre. Like a bank account, skills need constant deposits to continually grow, so even after you feel you have attained some level of mastery, continuous work is still required to continue to grow and develop.
14. Be upbeat and enthusiastic.
They say opposites attract? Not in this case. Upbeat and enthusiastic people attract other upbeat and enthusiastic people. They are surrounded by positive people and situations that expand their influence. A positive attitude is also extremely contagious, and will carry your influence with it as it spreads.
15. Be a person of integrity and values.
Your description of who you are and your actions should broadcast the same message. A firm stand and a lack of compromise on your core integrity and values allows people to trust the consistency of who you say you are, and continued trust will expand your influence. Now be warned, some of the greatest and most influential people were manipulators. Always double check and make sure your intentions and actions hold up to what you believe, and associate with people who will check you and give you sound advice.
16. Go above and beyond.
Raise the bar. Good enough is never good enough. Again, successful and influential people are never mediocre. They never settle for “ok” when great is an option. As Steve Jobs said, “In your life you only get to do so many things and right now we’ve chosen to do this, so let’s make it great.” Make what you do great!
17. Use your influence to bring out the best in others.
So by now, 16 tips into the list, you should be pretty influential. And what are you going to do with all of this clout, trust, and sway you have gained? The answer is easy, but the action of it can prove to be quite difficult. Once you gain influence in a certain area, use your sway to do good things for others and bring the best out in them. Pay your experience forward, whether it is in sharing what you have learned or providing opportunities for them to follow in your footsteps.
What do you hope to accomplish as you expand your influence? Share it below.