Personal influence in business is a direct descendant of one’s personal leadership.  Personal leadership is the power to influence other members in a group towards the achievement of a common vision or goals.  This personal leadership encompasses the groups’ welfare, an adoption of the desired vision of the group and the principles by which the group operates.  Personal influence transcends position or status.  As Bennis has stated well “Power is the ability to translate intention into reality and sustain it.”

The Four Types of Personal Influence

There are four essential types of personal influence within business.  These are generally listed in relative strength.  Position Power is a weaker form of influence, while Performance Power is stronger.   

  1. Position Power. Position Power is defined to have certain rights & responsibilities relative to others in the group. It establishes a relationship of “have-to” that others in the group must respect. The person with position power holds onto it only as long as they hold the position.
  2. Agreement Power. Agreement Power is when two parties agree to be bound by terms of mutual obligations & rights that are negotiated, binding, and enforceable.
  3. Persuasive Power. Persuasive Power is the ability to influence other peoples’ behavior to do what you want them to do. It is usually based on a high level of trust. A person with high persuasive power typically carries a large circle of influence.
  4. Performance Power. Performance Power is the ability to plan and execute, make effective decisions and attain objectives. This person does the right things at the right times very well, with high character & competency.

The primary challenge in personal influence is to understand the sources of power in the organization and how people use power to influence the group. Is it for good or not? Too often, people misunderstand their source of power and their ability to influence others by confusing position power for the other three higher forms. Real influence is using performance, persuasive, and agreement power to support the best interests of the group.

The Three Sources of Powerful Personal Influence

Your personal influence is directly proportional to your personal leadership effectiveness, your use of power, and the way you build trust to directly influence others.  To attain real and lasting personal influence, look for these three sources of power.          

  1. Live the credibility of your character. Character includes intention, integrity, empathy and the willingness to be influenced by others.  But most of all, character includes a constancy of purpose, knowing who you are, what you believe in, and living your life accordingly.
  2. Demonstrate the strength of your capabilityCapability is your ability to demonstrate high performance, such that others want to follow your lead.
  3. Sell the conviction of your vision. Building your compelling personal vision should precede adopting the group’s vision.  It should be compelling for your life, and you must be committed to personal leadership first as a prerequisite to personal influence.  

And finally, always strive that others should say….

“I like me best when I’m with you”.

About the Author(s)

 Joe  Bockerstette

A seasoned executive and consulting partner with more than 30 years of experience, Joe Bockerstette is partner at Business Enterprise Mapping. He began his career with PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he was the firm's lead consulting Partner in Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) Supply Chain. Subsequently, he led two CPG companies, before co-founding a private equity firm in 2000. In 2006, co-...

Partner, Business Enterprise Mapping
The Fundamentals of Personal Influence in Business