Influence and power are similar in that you get people to do what you want. They are different however in means of how you go about getting people to do things for you. There have been a few people who were good at influencing with power such as Hitler and Julius Caesar. These two people were dictators and they influenced people with power. They were able to get people to do what they wanted without them having to think about it; opposite of influencing without power. This article does a better job at explaining the differences between power and influence. Geeks have a hard time influencing business people, because they lack good communication skills. It can be very important to learn this skill, because if a suit hires you for a big decision on technology than you are going to want to be able to influence that suit to pick the very best option.
Influence can be positive, but there is also a lot of negative influence people go through throughout life. From personal experience going into my freshman year of college at Fontbonne I was faced with a lot of negative influence. I did not make the best decision some of the time, but I have obviously learned from my mistakes. I would not consider myself as sheltered throughout high school, but some of the things I saw at Fontbonne were definitely some things I have not dealt with before. An example I can share though is that I went through a period where I was negatively influenced to sort of just forget about school altogether. A couple of my friends and I would stay up all night playing Call of Duty, then skip classes and just sleep all day. I did this for probably about two weeks, until I realized my grades were going down the drain.
I have not dealt with influence through working really yet, but I have played on many sports teams and have had coaches be positive influences on me. My coach from high school is part of the FCA now, and he has had a positive influence on me to be a better Christian. I still meet up with him every so often today to just talk about life, and about how my spiritual life is going. Coach Carlson is also another positive influence through Christ. I may not agree with everything he says and does all the time, but I would not want any other coach. He does not force you to do things through power, he does it through positive influence. My coach from Fontbonne however, influenced through power. If you did not perform well then you know you could expect to get yelled at, and sometimes even cussed out. When he talked to a player you could see fear in that players eyes, because he rarely had anything positive to say to someone.
This video explains how leadership and influence go hand in hand. If you do not have respect for someone, chances are they are not a good leader. On the baseball team we have a few people who are great leaders, and it is very easy to be influenced by them. If I am in the weight room, and Tim Osborne, a leader and probably the strongest person on the team is there, chances are I am going to be influenced and motivated to work harder.
I feel like this picture describes just how easy it is to misinterpret power and influence in the workplace.
I may never be a boss of a company, but I hope that I can grow as a leader and make a positive influence on somebodies life. Influence is a powerful skill, but you need to be careful so that you do not manipulate someone’s mind. Geeks need to learn how to be great communicators, in order to be great at influencing.