The power to influence a person is one of the single most important traits to possess. Individuals, who influence others, can wield the masses and generate power to accomplish a goal. Successful business leaders, celebrities and politicians have mastered this particular task. Individuals in these roles are often extroverted, charismatic, charming and persuasive. These individuals know how to develop people and disseminate their ideas to persuade the masses.
Celebrities are particularly well versed in influencing the masses. Most celebrities are the greatest sales people. For instance, an actor or actress may promote an idea, provide a message, promote a product, provide therapeutic relief or be a role model in a particular film or movie. The movie actors or actresses can influence the masses to behave a certain way or buy a certain product. Successful movie stars like Jennifer Aniston, Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Will Smith, Jennifer Lopez or Angelina Jolie, develop trends that move the masses. Individuals desire to wear a dress like Jennifer Lopez or Sandra Bullock wore to the Oscars. Suddenly, overnight, they have become the best sales person for a particular trend.
Likewise, a musician may write a song to influence people to behave in a certain way, dance a certain way or feel a certain way. The song is available for millions to listen to on the internet or radio. Those who purchase the music are particularly supportive of the musical composition, the lyrics, or the artist. Celebrities may gain millions of supporters from a particular song with a particular message.
Authors have the same effect. They may write a book or novel that inspires people or instructs people. The book is available to the masses. Millions of people may purchase the book, adopt the ideas. A movement will subsequently be started by the people who agree with the principles explained in the book. Nearly everyone is familiar with the sounds of Mrs. Beyonce Knowles. She is currently a household name and so are her innovative fashions. Her music, along with greats, like Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and Prince, will be remembered for a lifetime. These “superstars” not only sold music, but they sold a way of life.
Politicians will not be elected without the power to influence and gain power. The very definition of a politician is an elected individual who can persuade people to accomplish a particular task. Ineffective politicians cannot get policies passed, they cannot raise money, and they cannot effectively negotiate with world leaders to keep wars from erupting around the world. Effective leaders develop allies and can influence those allies to accomplish tasks on their behalf. Politicians must also be good delegators. They must effectively organize teams in order to accomplish a goal. They must also good motivators and communicators. They must also garner the respect of the masses. Effective politicians can accomplish all of these goals and encourage the masses to support their causes or their way of life.
Two Components of Power
According to some experts, power has two components, “personal power” and “perceived power.” Personal power gives individuals the strength to accomplish goals, face adversity, and recover from adversity. Perceived power is gauging others perception of the power you possess. An individual possess power, but appear to some people not to have any power. Alternatively, a person may not have any power, but appear to some people as having a substantial amount of power. Individuals should strive to strike a balance between perceived power and personal power.
How Individuals Attain Power and Influence
Know Your Audience
People, who attain power and influence, understand the motivations of others or a large group of people. These people become powerful by recognizing an individual’s motivations or desires. Great leaders know their audience. For example, individuals who are suffering from economic frustration or marital problems may be more likely to purchase music or entertainment that provides comic relief regarding the subject manner. Other examples of causes that entertainers or politicians may address are as follows:
- Charity Cause, such as emergency response & rebuilding in Haiti
- People who Desire Luxury Items
- Movements that Inspire People
- How to Find Love
- How to Become Rich
- How to Attain Material Items
- How to Survive
- How to Thrive at Work
- How to Do What You Love
- How to Survive a Midlife Crisis
- How to Save Money
- How to Avoid Exorbitant Taxes
- How to Retire
- How to Party Like a Star
- How to Raise Children
- How to Develop Friendships
- How to Find a Spouse
- How to be Romantic
- How to Overcome Adversity
- How to Overcome Negativity
- How to Move to a More Affluent Neighborhood
- How to Buy a Luxury Vehicle
Depending upon the leader, each will take a different approach to address the subject matter. However, the goal is simple. Each leader wants to influence their audience to achieve the goal addressed in their medium. The more people that purchase their product, the more people they have influenced to become a supporter of their particular cause.
Great leaders know what will motivate their audience to spend money or support a cause. Great leaders capitalize on this knowledge and produce products, entertainment or services that will make the people excited and want to buy more. Leaders who advertise to people who do not like their particular cause, who have no money or wield no power are wasting their energies. These people are not likely to purchase products or advertise to others regarding product or service. Celebrities must know the type of audience that will buy their form of entertainment. Otherwise, their art, product, or service will not appeal to the masses. Likewise politicians must know the concerns of their party and the majority of individuals. Otherwise, their ratings may decline, their policies may not pass, and they may not be re-elected.
Learn to Think Quickly in the Face of Adversity
Some individuals are adept in handling situations that they can imagine. Some imaginable forms of adversity may include:A death in the family
- A death of a pet
- A loss of a job
- A loss of a best friend
- A natural disaster
- A temporary financial setback
However, most individuals are not equipped to handle all of these things if they happen at once. Alternatively, if these events occur on a massive scale, most individuals are not equipped to handle them. For instance, a person may lose their house, car, friends, entire family, job, financial source of income and involuntarily becomes a public figure within six months or a year. The person may be slandered in the media daily and threatened by legal authorities. This person may also not be able to obtain adequate legal representation. This is an unfathomable course of events for most people. Some people may be resilient enough to recover from this event because they are trained in disaster recovery. Others, who could have never imagined this chain of events, may not recover as fast as the public would wish.
The Group Effect
An instance where this chain of events may occur happens when a group retaliates against another group in order maintain control of a situation. When several people act in concert against a person, it is called the “group effect.” The “group effect” describes the phenomenon of making a person feel as if they have no power, because so many individuals have acted against the person. People, who engage in organized stalking rings or ridicule a person through innuendo, force the person to feel as if they have no power. A person, who is equipped to handle the “group effect,” will probably have the ability to remain calm and influence people in a tough situation.
Know How to Handle the Media
Likewise, a person who can handle the media is more likely to gain influence and power. This person can deflect questions and remain calm under pressure. This type of person is more likely to become successful. People who are not embarrassed by natural and daily occurrences will be more equipped to handle the harshness of some of the media outlets. People, who are not equipped to handle life’s unexpected curveballs, will be more likely to feel emotionally drained from the pressure. Great leaders imagine the worst thing that can happen to them and prepare for the occurrence.
Some people view unprepared individuals as weak or helpless. These individuals are not helpless, they are simply unprepared. People, who are bullies, prey on unprepared people and taunt them with their weaknesses. People who are prepared to handle public mockery will become better leaders. Luckily, this is a skill that can be taught. However, some people make professions out of bullying people until they have a breakdown, commit suicide or change to meet the other person’s point of view. The individuals may have been good leaders. However, a jealous individual may have decided to make the individual’s life miserable. Great leaders must be prepared for this sociopathic type of behavior and know how to stop these people legally.
Think Outside the Box
In some instances, even the most prepared person is not equipped to handle some situations. In these instances, it is best for the person to remain calm and strategize to determine the best course of action. In some instances, this is precisely what the person is expecting. Some great leaders plan radical movements, in these instances, in order to regain control over their lives. These instances are rare but are necessary in order to maintain control. Leaders such as, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi and Nelson Mandela each led radical movements in order to regain control for their people and themselves. Leaders are often controversial and not well liked by a certain majority. However, their movements changed the way society responded to particular social issues. Now, because of their leadership the problems faced during their times are not as prevalent as they were during the time of their leadership.
Have an Internal Locus of Control
Learn to become an authentic person and look within for guidance. Relying upon others excessively may lead to problems. For instance, a person who defines themselves based upon what another person thinks of them will always be unhappy. Each individual must learn to be happy with them. If a person or group betrays you and you are dependent upon their encouragement, support or love, it may be devastating. Individuals must learn to engage in positive self talk in order to avoid losing your indentity if someone takes advantage of you. Every individual desires accolades, praise, complements, support, and love. However, the key to success is to not become dependent on this in order to be a whole person.
Knowledge is Power
Unfortunately, some people will stop at nothing to obtain power or take power from a group of people. Those types of people will find any weakness in an individual and exploit it until the person is debilitated. The more you know, the better equipped you will become to rebut these types of attacks. Knowledge of the law, business, medicine, and social awareness are instrumental in developing a solid suit of armor when going into battle with individuals who launch an attack against you.
Have an Extensive Network
The power of social networks is instrumental in the age of the internet. If a person has an extensive social network and they are wronged by a business or group, they can simply encourage that group to withdraw business or support. Developing a network is not as easy as one would imagine. The more you help people and refer people, the stronger the network will become. If you are the moderator for a particular group or blog, people will turn to you for guidance and introductions to people who are members of your group or blog. This will help you build a network, influence, and power over time.
Self confidence is similar to having an internal locus of control. However, self confidence involves another component that the internal locus of control does not address. Simply stated, what you believe about yourself may be projected to your audience. This is not true in all cases, but in some cases it is true. Some individuals think very highly of themselves, but do not exude this belief because they feel that it is not appropriate. Other people do not think very highly of themselves. However, no one would suspect self esteem issues, because they always project a positive image to the crowd.
Know Your Weakness
Know your vulnerabilities. Focus on these issues to avoid an unforeseeable attack by an individual. For instance, a person who relies upon a company for income may be continually harassed by co-workers who desire your position. If the company is aware that you have no other source of income, they may not address your concerns because you have no perceived power or actual power. The managers may not even acknowledge your concerns. This is an unfortunate situation because no matter what you do, you cannot get ahead. This type of environment weighs on the emotional psyche. It is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of a toxic environment that preys upon weakness of employees. This type of behavior is illegal and is prosecutable under the law. However, there must be substantial evidence to prove your case.
Never reveal low self-esteem to friends or co-workers. An individual may betray you and use your vulnerability as a way to gain power that you once possessed. People who are not prepared for the betrayal may find themselves in the depths of despair and disbelief at the actions of a “frenemy.” Guard personal information from people whom you suspect have something to gain if the two of you are no longer friends. If you decide to make your life an “open book,” be certain that you are equipped to deal with any negative comments and betrayals that you may receive.
Listen to People
Great leaders actively listen. They listen to the followers to determine what they would like from them. They integrate constructive comments into their products, services, policies, movies, or music. Great leaders know what their people want because they ask constantly. Then they take their comments and make changes based upon these actions.
Great Leaders Have a Vision
Great leaders have a vision and a plan to implement their vision. They know how to encourage people to help them accomplish their goal. Leaders also know how to reward their followers to keep them encouraged and reprimand them when they get out of control. Great leaders possess the authority to execute their vision and people follow because of their perceived expertise in a particular area.
People who use their power to help people are more successful than those who do not, typically. However, there are very successful people in history who do not adhere to these policies. Some powerful people will only help a certain group of people. They remain in power because they will only help certain people become successful.
Leaders should use their power for good reasons and not bad. Great leaders use their power to help individuals and not hurt them or torture them. Great leaders coach other people and help them become successful. However, they do not coach and help someone at their own expense.
Marketing Power and Wielding Influence
As stated earlier, social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest, Snapchat and LinkedIn will help individuals manage their network and influence a group of people by developing a rapport. Individuals have access to millions of people on the internet without regard to time or location. These tools allow effective communication among groups of people. Referrals are a fast way to earn respect on LinkedIn and Facebook. Individuals are grateful when a person connects them with a contact that can advance their career or accomplish a goal. The more people that you communicate with the easier it will be to raise money for a fundraiser, obtain a job, or organize an event. Individuals should maximize their use of Facebook and other online networking to have a pre-determined audience to sharpen communication skills, influence, and persuade them to your cause.
Publications Regarding Influence and Power
Individuals who are seeking to gain more knowledge in the area of influence and power may elect to read some of the following publications. These books will give you a range of theories and ideas on how to obtain power and influence the masses. Several other books are also available. However, you may find them through further research on the topic.
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
- Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power
- Managing With Power: Politics and Influence in Organizations
- Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space and Influence
- The DNA of Successful Leaders: Tapping Your Natural Power to Win Friends and Influence Others
- Power, Influence, and Persuasion: Sell Your Ideas and Make Things Happen (Harvard Business Essentials)
- Women and the Leadership Q: Revealing the Four Paths to Influence and Power
- Maximum Influence: The 12 Universal Laws of Power Persuasion