When it comes to power and control, influence is one of the most important things because it is a subtle way to get people to listen to you without you having to make them think a certain way. Influencers are people who others look up to and want to do what they do. They have a certain way of suggesting things through how they act and who they are. For some reason though, technical people really struggle with influence and being influential. Why is this? Is this something that can change? What are some things that technical people can do in order to increase their amount of influence on other people inside and outside the workplace?
The book suggests that the reason why geeks do not have much influence is because they just haven’t grasped the reasons for why they don’t have influence. Its like not finding buried treasure simply because you never cared to look. The reasons for this lack of influence lies in the areas that geeks seem to lack, which are the areas of human relationships, trust, and empathy. Geeks don’t know the difference between influence and power, they fail to cultivate the preconditions of being influential, and geeks try to use techniques that are more suited to salespeople than geeks. When it comes to influence vs. power, power is the ability to affect another person’s observable behavior, but influence is the ability to affect someone’s inner state, what they think, feel, and believe. People who have influence are able to reach people from a different perspective that begins within themselves. It may change their thoughts or emotions in ways that will help them change their behavior or make them more productive. Power is simply a way to get people to do something even if they don’t necessarily want to. You can force someone to do a ton of work that they don’t want to do simply because you say that if they don’t then they’re fired, but they are not going to respect you for that, it will just make them hate their job. So now that we know the difference between the two, how can geeks become more influential? The approach that technical leaders need to go from is to be focused on building influence rather than power. They must be consistent with their goals and personalities. They must also use an approach that works for themselves and the people who they would like to influence. Geek managers also must reduce their own resistance, and become willing to move people. Two myths that are common obstacles for geek managers are that: people’s decisions should be based on logic and objectively verifiable facts rather than subjective experience. This is because geeks struggle to see the human side of people which include emotions and sometimes illogical decision making. The next one is that “manipulating” other people’s inner experience is wrong. Ultimately, influence comes down to the people that you are trying to influence. I do not think that it is really manipulating them since they have a choice to be influenced or not. That is one of the main differences between power and influence. One includes a choice, while the other usually does not.
Influence is a powerful thing. You can gain a lot of respect from people if they see that you are trying to be influential and not just a power hungry megalomaniac. People want to know that you care about them and if you want them to become better forms of their current selves, then I would say that they care an awful lot about you and your well-being.