The Influencers

Influence may be the highest level of human skills.  -Author Unknown

by J. William DeMarco

Stepping into a job where you might feel overwhelmed by the shear number of people that you are responsible for?

I can relate.  When I first stepped into my current position, I did not know anyone, I was new to the “community,” felt I had little creditability…and was very concerned how to influence the organization.

ImageA thought occurred to me… if I could find the folks that were heard in the organization and influence them… the message and the vision could spread quickly to those they influence.  What was I looking for in an influencer? Someone that could help in creating positive change, play a major role in solving major dilemmas and assist in recognizing and solving irritating problems.

In the book “Influencer” by Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillian and Switzler (wow, that’s a lot of authors):  They talk about Influencers not depend on just one technique. They combine six general strategies:

1. “Personal motivation” – Addressing individual desires and values.

2. “Personal ability” – Teaching crucial information and the new skills needed to act on it.

3. “Social motivation” – Using peer pressure.

4. “Social ability” – Helping people unite for support, rather than struggling alone.

5. “Structural motivation” – Building reward systems; getting people to be accountable.

6. “Structural ability” Changing the environment in which an action occurs.

The issue being…I’m not sure any one person can posses all six techniques and use each effectively.  We would probably need more than one “influencer” in the group… each of which had one or more of the above traits.

We sought well-respected individuals as models for the entire organization, that could set a new tone for group culture. Just introducing a new idea wasn’t going to be enough.

We needed to identify trendsetters. Since more than 85% of the people in any community won’t adopt new behaviors “until opinion leaders do,” we  had to examine the target audience and find the “cool kids.”  The job was to find and enlist these opinion positions, like organizational representatives or village chiefs…we had to look outside the usual respected leaders.

The key was finding these folks and using their influence to help change culture, mindset, and build a collaborative team of thought leaders and innovators

The time has come when we must move on to our next job and position, but I have truly learned the power of the influencers and NOT trying to do it all yourself…enlist opinion leaders, craft good stories, and show people how the changes you advocate can “put a ding in the universe”…and don’t forget…BE LARGE!

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