Does influence or politics get you to the top?

A few years ago, Boss magazine published an article on the seven things a CEO should know. I can’t remember the first six but the seventh really stuck with me.

It was “you can have all the power in the world, but the minute you use it, you lose it”.
It is such a powerful statement.

Influence is key to being successful. It is about getting people to follow based on inspiration and motivation rather than through control or formal power.

So what does politics have to do with influence?

Most of us have a poor view of politics – we see it as negative. However anyone who works in a major organisation is involved in office politics.

The attached HBR article is interesting as it talks about politics not necessarily being negative. It’s premise is that politics is just influence by another name.

I agree that politics don’t have to be negative. What’s your view?


Influence – HBR’s article on puersasion


Hot on the heels of my recent couple of posts on the importance of influence, HBR has posted a great article on persuasion.

The article talks about four essential steps that an ‘effective persuader’ takes:

  • First establish credibility
  • Second, they frame their goals in a way that identifies common ground with those they intend to persuade
  • Third, they reinforce their positions using vivid language and compelling evidence
  • Fourth, they connect emotionally with their audience

I think it is very important and the article is well worth reading. The hyperlink to HBR’s blog is below


The minute you use it you lose it


Years ago Boss Magazine ran an article on the ‘Seven things a CEO should know’. I have forgotten the first six but the seventh has always stuck with me – “you can have all the power in the world, but the minute you use it, you lose it”.

In essence, it was saying that the key to engaging and motivating people was influence. In your role, you may have the power to order a staff member to do something, but the minute you do you have lost their ongoing support and input of discretionary effort.

So how do you influence someone to do something, particularly if it is difficult assignment or something that they would rather not do? I apply four key filters to ensure that I am exercising influence rather than control:

  1. Can I make the task or assignment a learning experience and one that they will feel that it would be good for their career?
  2. Is there a goal or outcome that we can ‘co-create’ that will ensure a personal sense of achievement in completing the task?
  3. Do they feel that they will be recognised by me and the organisation for undertaking the role?
  4. Is the task or assignment framed in a way that allows them to see how it fits into the bigger picture or strategy of the division or company?

To me, you know when you have been successful in influencing when an employee sees:

  • that the task or assignment is something that they believe in
  • that they, and the organisation, believe that they are the best person to undertake the assignment
  • that the task is worth putting discretionary effort into.