Do you influence or are you an influencer?
In 1936 Dale Carnegie wrote the quintessential self-help book How to Win Friends and Influence People. Maybe he knew that in the soon to be airport bookshop, managers old and new, would be frantically looking for the solution to the art of the deal or how to be the one minute manager before they got on the airplane. Carnegie’s book is considered one of the most influential books of all time.
Carnegie may have been prescient in meeting the needs of the modern manager. But he could not have predicted the rise of the on-line influencer; who sets out to influence, win friends and get paid for doing so. Maybe it is time for a new book: How to influence people and win friends.
Influencing others hardly started with the on-line incarnation. In the 18th Century, the royal stamp of approval by George III of the pottery of Josiah Wedgwood enabled Wedgwood to use the King’s approval to increase brand awareness to promote and sell his products. To this day ‘by appointment to the Queen’ carries huge kudos on a whole range of UK products. Wonder what rate the royal household gets of each 1000 followers?
Influencing others is a core skill for any manager. Modern managers are called to spend less time controlling, and more time coaxing staff in what they need to do. As empowerment pushes decisions and responsibilities further down the line, the skills required of managers are changing from ‘how to tell and motivate’ to ‘how to persuade and influence’.
Is this the difference between management and leadership? Possibly.
It may also be a consequence of an educated and skilled workforce, who may ask, quite legitimately, why do we do ‘this’ this way.