The Differences Between Internal and External Influence and Their Relationship to Service
As I was pondering the next developmental moment, and was considering influence as a topic, I had to stop, and reflect upon the past three years. What to say about influence?
Well, as with most things in my life today, an insight did occur, which will now come out through me and to you. Fun.
Alright, so influence is an important topic when you are leading teams; and, well, I do believe it is an important topic in everyone’s development, regardless of their iteration of self-development, or their interest in leadership. Why?
Because, we all will, at some point, apply for a job, need to grow our network, and, or, seek new areas of self-expression. And, to be fully self-expressed, or, rather, to self-express yourself fully, it is nice to understand the concept of influence. Let’s do just that then. Take a look at how I interpret the concept of influence.
Ready? Good. Here we go.
to have an effect on the way that someone behaves or thinks, especially by giving them an example to follow.
influence something, influence how, where, etc. to have an effect on a particular situation and the way that it develops.Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries
There we go.
Alright, so here’s what we have for influence; to have an effect on a particular situation and the way it develops, or the way that someone behaves or thinks, especially in regard to providing them an example to follow.
Now let’s discuss influence in two different ways. Let’s take a look at internal influence, and external influence. Both are important, and both are needed. Here we go.
When I write the phrase internal influence, I am referring to your influence within the business, organization, or institution in which you work.
Understanding influence as an opportunity to build cultural capital inside of the business, organization, or institution in which you work is important for a leader to consider. If your influence wanes, it may be hard, for example, to garner political support on a project your team is working on.
However, if your influence is strong, or even adequate, garnering support will be easier. Pretty simple.
What I’ve found to be most true about internal influence is that being who you really are is of utmost importance. Meaning, to be the authentic leader you know yourself to be.
Yes, we all have to make concessions at times, and, yet, we all have the creative power to effect change. And, this is true, even when our influence is bourgeoning.
A quick aside. Influence, like most things in life, lives along a spectrum. Meaning, that influence is not binary. You gain influence over time; and, it takes time.
Maybe you’re asking yourself, okay, well, how do we create influence, and effect change. Here are a few important considerations for those interested in increasing their internal influence.
- Relationships – as I’ve written many times, everything starts with relationships. The one we have with ourselves, yes, and then with everyone else. Being in a relationship means having easy and difficult conversations. Remembering this truth is important in leadership.
- Questions – asking questions is always an important step in creating influence. Often, people shy away from asking the tough questions. Ask them. It is important to your own development, and that of your teams.
- Creativity – being open, flexible, and innovative, is an important aspect of influencing the future. Without creativity, the past is the future, a stamped reproduction. Thus, being open to new ideas, those from your peers, and your team is essential.
- Integrity – doing what we say we are going to do is important to all aspects of our lives, and there is no exception in creating influence. If we are unable to make it to a meeting, or are going to be late, communicate. Open communication ensures that we are always keeping everyone in the conversation, and keeping our integrity intact.
- Authenticity – be who you are. You are just as you are supposed to be, so embrace your unique-self, and let that shine. There is only one you, which means there’s not another person on the planet that can create influence, or anything else for that matter, just like you. When we are authentic, people know, and respect our truth. And, if they don’t? Remember, that’s their issue. Not yours. Be who you are.
Alright, there are five examples, and considerations for you, on how to create influence within a business, organization, or institution. Remember, influence takes time to cultivate. It’s kind of like gardening. You must water your relationships, questions, creativity, integrity, and authenticity, and, when you do, you will see your influence grow.
External influence is similar to internal influence, and yet, also different. You can use the five considerations aforementioned with those clients, students, or customers, that are external to your business, organization, or institution. And?
There are a couple more strategies for you to consider. Here we go.
- Engagement – being fully engaged at all times with those you serve is important. Meaning, that it is important to create an engagement system that you can rely upon, which will ensure your engagement is, well, like a drum beat. Your clients, students, or customers need to rely upon your engagement pattern. I write about developing my LinkedIn engagement system in the post, A Blogger’s Diary 12/27/20: On Writing, Goal-Setting, Systems, and the Holidays, which can serve as one of many examples to draw upon.
- Consistency – a drum beat, or pattern, on which your clients, students, or customers can rely. Important. There are lots of ways to ensure you stay on track with your engagement. You can calendar your engagements, enter them into a project management software system, or keep them in a planner. The tool matters far less, than the output of making sure to engage regularly and consistently.
- Reciprocity – relationships are built upon many things, and reciprocity is one. Being in relationships means sharing yourself with your clients, students, or customers. And doing so in a genuine way. Remember, people know when we are inauthentic. They can see, hear, and feel it. Just be who you are, and reciprocate.
- Value – our clients, students, or customers want to know they are valued. They would like value, and to know they are valued. Both. Providing value comes in many forms, and it’s not always, actually rarely, monetary. It’s about being there for your clients, students, or customers. Taking care of them, treating them with kindness, and valuing their needs.
- Service – in the end, it’s all about service. All of it. The service we give ourselves, and the service we give out to our clients, students, or customers. When we value our service, we are always looking for, and creating, new ways to serve. Whether that is through a new business model, a new product, or a new service. Really. Ultimately, it’s about understanding the need, reflecting on that need, and creating a bridge for that need.
Internal and external influence matter. It’s not about ego. We are leaving ego at the door. It’s about service. About taking care of people. Finding out what they need, and working with them to fill that need.
When we are in relationship with people, we are in a unique position to serve.
And, as we continue to serve, our influence grows. Influence grows as we grow and deepen our relationships. The relationships we have with those we serve. Ultimately, it’s our peers, teams, clients, students, and customers that let us know about our influence.
When we have movement in our relationships, we can see it and feel it; and, when we have traction, we know, because reciprocity flourishes as we enter into new relationships each day. And, as we enter into more relationships, our service grows; and, yes, we also grow. Fun.