Whilst the dictionary suggests it is about the power of producing effect, particularly in people and the ability to bring something about; it seems to me that influence is a bit more subtle than this. Even if it is, ultimately, about power it is about unacknowledged power rather than authority per se. As I’ve pondered this over the last couple of days four key things stand out in describing people who are influential.
Agents of change: By one means or another influential people change how others think, or behave, either as individuals or by changing the culture of an organisation / institution. Normally this seeks to bring out the best in others, releasing them and encouraging them.
Communicating ideas: often which reach large numbers of people. Having ideas which inspire others or create confidence are the primary attributes, but having clarity of thought allied with a vision of the future that sparks other people’s creativity and imagination is the key to linking ideas with change.
Character to emulate: being someone others seek to be like (or even follow). This includes wisdom and understanding but also knowledge tied to emotional intelligence. Integrity, spirituality and Christ likeness are particularly important here.
Relational connectivity: the ability to engage people so they feel they have some connection with you is a vital part of communication but also the way you impact people. You are more influential when people like you, or feel you value them or have heard/understood them. Sometimes the people close to us influence us most; so it is not all about technique or transformational leadership!