Most recently, I purchased a package of consulting services, for which I’ll have to travel across the country twice, for several times the cost of similar services here in San Diego. By the time I add time, airfare, and lodging… Well, you get the picture. “The cost was irrelevant,” I told my business partner as I justified the investment.
I’m not alone. Many of my clients confessed that they chose me over other coaches or consultants who offered cheaper services.
Why do we yield and pay more, much more—whether it’s in money, time, or commitment? Is it a flawless sales pitch? That’s only part of the story.
Influence that leads to relationship—someone’s capacity to compel others to take action on something that is good for them—is the rest of the story.
This is what I know for sure: authentic influence that leads to relationship trumps tactics, flare, and sales pitches. Why and how world-class influencers improve their authentic influence is the topic of this conversation.
The Good News: We’re Hardwired to Influence Others
Leadership is influence and influence is selling something to someone else—a product, a service, a cause, or an idea. The good news is that we’re already hardwired to influence others—everyone is. If you have small kids, you know the master influencers they are. Sure, manipulation is the main tool they know how to use. But that’s another conversation.
Think about shining moments of influence in your life. Perhaps your current relationship. You sold the idea that you were the one and only option. How about your current job or opportunity? You sold the idea that you were the best candidate from among all the others with similar credentials, portfolios, and connections.
It’s been my experience that our finest moments as influencers are driven by authenticity and intention. In other words, we learn to intentionally build bridges to the hearts and minds of others by presenting our best selves—our most authentic selves.
8 Pivot Points of Authentic Influence
Developing your authentic influence around 8 communication-driven pivot points is one of the most valuable investments you can make. They are easy to remember because they spell the word SUPERBLY, as in Superbly Speaking.
When it comes to developing authentic influence, Story—capital S—is paramount. When I say Story, in this context, I’m referring to the congruence between your internal story and your external story.
Your internal story is your mindset, what you believe, what you say to yourself. Your internal story influences your external story. For example, if you don’t believe that others are willing to pay the price for your idea, or that your product is worth a higher price, you won’t be able to “sell” with confidence and conviction. Your external story will suffer, and so will your influence.
Question: How is your internal story serving or sabotaging your influence?
Your external story is how you show up to the world, which involves the next seven pivot points. Think of it as your personal brand, namely, the words you speak, how you deliver them, and what you do—your actions. All three elements must communicate the same story if you are to see your influence grow. As Ralph Waldo Emerson’s reference reminds us:
“Your actions speak so loud I can’t hear what you’re saying.”
In short, the Story behind your influence is rocket fuel propelling your most authentic influence. It communicates the clarity of your personal purpose. The clearer your Story, the greater your influence.
For example, let’s say your idea is about helping and empowering others (also your life’s purpose), but you constantly monopolize the conversation, gossip, or fail to deliver on your promises. Your Story breaks down, and so your ability to influence others. Jack Welch said it best:
Leadership [influence] today is all about two words: It’s all about truth and trust.
Usefulness is about solving problems. It’s where your purpose intersects with the needs of your audience—those you are trying to influence. It’s the WIIFM Factor (What’s in it for me?). It’s your dedication to asking the hard questions ahead of time: What are the needs of my audience? What do they care about? What do they need to see and hear from me? What don’t they need right now?
Question: How well are you communicating the usefulness of your product or idea to your audience?
Passion is the energy that radiates from your purpose and your desire to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Passion enlivens meaning. It connects with others at a deeper level because it taps into their desire to be part of something greater. Passion can be a life sustaining rain (that adds credibility to your message) or a destructive downpour (when it obscures your ideas).
Question: How do you communicate passion—does it illuminate or dilute your message?
Empathy is your willingness to stand in your audience’s shoes. See through their eyes. Think through their perspective. Feel with their heart. Empathy is also a close relative of vulnerability and authenticity (showing up as you are), two irresistible traits found in highly influential leaders.
Question: What would convince your audience that you have walked in their shoes?
Reliability is nothing more and nothing less than “What you see is what you get.” It’s your credibility. It’s the assurance that you will not betray trust—that you won’t talk behind my back, that you won’t share what I share in confidence, that you will assume the best of me and give me the chance to defend myself. In short, it’s all the irrefutable evidence that proves you, your message, and your intentions are worthy of my trust.
Question: What cracks in your reliability need your attention?
Assuming positive intentions paves the way to trust and, ultimately, to influence.
Brevity is tied to your verbal communication. It’s about communicating more with less. Brevity demands clarity. It shows that you have done your homework to clarify your ideas before showing up to the conversation. It communicates that you are more interested in dialogue than monologue. Brevity is not necessarily a matter of length, but a matter of audience, context, politeness, and value. As I used to say to my former writing students when they asked, “How long should my essay be?”
As long as it needs to be to make your point, but I will not read one word past five pages.
Be clear. Be brief. Be quiet.
Question: How does brevity fit you?
Listening is both the most powerful aspect of communication and also the most neglected—the reason most people have forgotten what it feels like. Listening is about being fully present. Showing up to the conversation without an agenda. Gifting others with your undivided attention.
Question: How many times in the past weeks have you listened to others the way you wish they’d listen to you?
If you want to supercharge your influence, become a world-class listener.
Yielding is knowing when to let go—without manipulation or ulterior motives. Yielding is also being able to admit when you are wrong, willingness to learn from others, and surrendering when a better solution is on the table—regardless of who gets the credit. Leaders who know when to yield, inspire trust, one of the primary drivers of influence.
Question: How hard is it for you to yield control or credit to someone else?
It’s About Intention, Not Perfection
Don’t let the word “Superbly” fool you. Developing authentic influence is not about perfection. It’s about intentionally moving closer and closer in the right direction.
You can be intentional, starting now. First, take inventory and action on at least one pivot point every week.
Then, invite feedback. What’s clear when observing others is not always clear when observing ourselves. You can start by inviting trusted peers to offer their opinion by answering these questions:
- Which one of these eight pivot points needs my most immediate attention?
- Can you give me an example of how you’ve seen me blow it in this area?
- If you were me, what would you do next?
Intention, not perfection, is the bridge
that leads to greater influence.
Why am I willing to to pay you more, much more? Because at the end of the day I’m not buying the product you’re selling, I’m buying YOU.
Get a jumpstart on your next pivot move, apply now for a free strategy session. Whether you choose to work with me or not, you will walk away with greater clarity and ideas you can implement right away.