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Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder and CEO, once said, "In the long run, it's not your products and services that will keep you at the top; it's your ability to influence." This is a profound understanding of Influence from one of the most successful executives in the world. Influence, essentially, is the capacity to have an effect on someone's behavior, actions, or decisions. Unsurprisingly, this ability to influence -- and not just manage -- is key in leading a successful global organization.




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Flevy Management Insights: Influence


Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder and CEO, once said, "In the long run, it's not your products and services that will keep you at the top; it's your ability to influence." This is a profound understanding of Influence from one of the most successful executives in the world. Influence, essentially, is the capacity to have an effect on someone's behavior, actions, or decisions. Unsurprisingly, this ability to influence -- and not just manage -- is key in leading a successful global organization.

The Power of Influence

Influence is no longer an option but a necessity in the rapidly evolving corporate landscape. Harvard Business Review's in-depth study reveals that Influence is at the heart of leadership. It's the critical component that drives decision-making, fosters Innovation, and steers Strategic Planning and Change Management. Therefore, this begs the question, how can executives harness this pivotal power?

The Pillars of Influence

According to research conducted by McKinsey & Company, there are four fundamental pillars of Influence that every executive should master:

Authority emanates from one's position within an organization. However, it is less about wielding power and more about its strategic use to drive action. Reciprocity involves give-and-take scenarios where mutual benefit is the goal. The power of expertise pertains to one’s skills or knowledge, making them an influential force. Lastly, relationship-driven influence sources from interpersonal bonds built on trust, empathy, and shared visions.

Influence as a Management Skill

A report by Deloitte emphasizes that in the modern enterprise, Influence is as vital a management skill as financial acumen, strategic vision, and operational prowess. Being able to influence peers, employees, and stakeholders provides the momentum needed to advance organizational initiatives in areas like Performance Management, Digital Transformation, Risk Management, and Business Transformation. One could argue that Influence is the hidden motor powering a company's overall mechanism.

Influencing Through Empathy

EY's report highlighted the importance of empathy in exercising influence. By understanding others' perspectives, executives can shift their approach to resonate more deeply, significantly improving their influence. This empathetic influence is crucial in cultivating a positive Culture, fostering Leadership, and driving the desired Change Management.

Driving Performance Through Influence

Accenture's study on Performance Management showed that executives with high influence can motivate their teams to achieve better results, improve efficiency, and increase overall job satisfaction. All this boils down to a simple equation; Greater Influence equals better performance.

Tools for Increasing Influence

While Influence may feel elusive, there are proactive steps executives can take to increase their sway. Gartner recommends focusing on improving communication skills, developing strategic relationships, leveraging expertise, and creating a culture of reciprocity. Other tools include developing emotional intelligence and fostering trust, as suggested in PwC’s latest leadership study.

In the words of John C. Maxwell, "Leadership is Influence." And as demonstrated, Influence is a complex art that takes time to master. For today's executive, understanding and wielding Influence is critical. It is the primary driver of Strategy Development, a catalyst for Innovation, and the key component in Digital Transformation, all building towards a resilient, future-oriented organization.

For effective implementation, take a look at these Influence best practices:


Explore related management topics: Digital Transformation Business Transformation Change Management Strategic Planning Performance Management Strategy Development Risk Management Behavioral Strategy Leadership




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