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Increasing your influence regardless of rank

Chief Master Sgt. David Brown, 19th Air Force command chief, speaks to Airmen during an NCO all call Aug. 6, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. Meeting with staff and technical sergeants after the all call Brown gave advice, motivated, and inspired the next generation of leadership at Columbus AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Chief Master Sgt. David Brown, 19th Air Force command chief, speaks to Airmen during an NCO all call Aug. 6, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. Meeting with staff and technical sergeants after the all call Brown gave advice, motivated, and inspired the next generation of leadership at Columbus AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Lt. Col. Jannell MacAulay, 58th Special Operations Wing director of human performance and leadership, speaks to Team BLAZE members May 3, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. MacAulay has been visiting military bases across the U.S. to speak about the benefits emerging from mental training, commonly known as mindfulness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Lt. Col. Jannell MacAulay, 58th Special Operations Wing director of human performance and leadership, speaks to Team BLAZE members May 3, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. MacAulay has been visiting military bases across the U.S. to speak about the benefits emerging from mental training, commonly known as mindfulness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Retired Col. Todd Phinney, former Chair of the Leadership and Warfighting Department at the Air War College, speaks to Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 17-13 Aug. 18, 2017, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. SUPT graduations occur every three weeks; for every class that graduates, another class begins. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Retired Col. Todd Phinney, former Chair of the Leadership and Warfighting Department at the Air War College, speaks to Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 17-13 Aug. 18, 2017, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. SUPT graduations occur every three weeks; for every class that graduates, another class begins. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Lt. Gen. Darryl L. Roberson, commander of Air Education and Training Command, converses with 14th Flying Training Wing leadership during an AETC Senior Leader All-Call Oct. 5, 2017, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi.  Roberson and AETC Command Chief Master Sergeant Juliet C. Gudgel spoke about future changes and ideas that can be implemented throughout their bases, groups and squadrons to more efficiently lead their students and Airmen.

Lt. Gen. Darryl L. Roberson, commander of Air Education and Training Command, converses with 14th Flying Training Wing leadership during an AETC Senior Leader All-Call Oct. 5, 2017, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. Roberson and AETC Command Chief Master Sergeant Juliet C. Gudgel spoke about future changes and ideas that can be implemented throughout their bases, groups and squadrons to more efficiently lead their students and Airmen.

Lt. Col. Teresa Roberts, Profession of Arms Center of Excellence Operations Division Chief, speaks to attendees during a PACE brief Sept. 30 at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The five-hour course covers several different modules separated with some group activities. The modules included connecting values to mission, professionalism, thinking about thinking, human behavior, communication, personal bias and more. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kaleb Snay)

Lt. Col. Teresa Roberts, Profession of Arms Center of Excellence Operations Division Chief, speaks to attendees during a PACE brief Sept. 30 at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The five-hour course covers several different modules separated with some group activities. The modules included connecting values to mission, professionalism, thinking about thinking, human behavior, communication, personal bias and more. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kaleb Snay)

Gen. Robin Rand, Commander of Air Education Training Command, and Chief Master Sgt. Gerardo Tapia, AETC Command Chief, host a question-and-answer session with Columbus Air Force Base chiefs and first sergeants in the Base Chapel Annex Jan. 23, 2015. Rand and Tapia shared their positions and experiences to Columbus AFB senior enlisted leadership. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman John Day)

Gen. Robin Rand, Commander of Air Education Training Command, and Chief Master Sgt. Gerardo Tapia, AETC Command Chief, host a question-and-answer session with Columbus Air Force Base chiefs and first sergeants in the Base Chapel Annex Jan. 23, 2015. Rand and Tapia shared their positions and experiences to Columbus AFB senior enlisted leadership. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman John Day)

Airman Leadership School class 14-03 and personnel from base stand at parade rest during a retreat ceremony at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., March 25, 2014. ALS is a five week program designed to develop Airmen into effective front-line supervisors. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Daniel Lile)

Airman Leadership School class 14-03 and personnel from base stand at parade rest during a retreat ceremony at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., March 25, 2014. ALS is a five week program designed to develop Airmen into effective front-line supervisors. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Daniel Lile)

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The ability to influence others is important no matter what role you fill in an organization, including the military. Influencing is an art, learned over time through education, personal experience and trial and error.

I was recently asked the question, “How do I increase my influence as a Junior Enlisted Airman?” Reflecting on my own personal experience, I remember most the hard lessons learned from both failures and successes as a follower, a peer and as a leader. Below are a few tips to help anyone increase their level of influence regardless of rank.

First, embody the common personality traits of an influential person. Selflessness, humility, genuineness, passion, transparency and charisma are the first handful that come to mind. Self-evaluation and requesting feedback from others will help identify areas that need to be worked on.
Use different approaches.

There isn’t a one size fits all method. Influencing styles or tactics have been researched and categorized by many different institutions. Harvard Business Review places them into five styles: Rationalizing, Asserting, Negotiating, Inspiring, and Bridging. (Musslewhite & Pouffe, 2012) Identifying your natural influencing style and becoming aware that it’s not the only one nor the most effective in every situation is a good place to start. Try different styles for different situations to see what works and what doesn’t.

Attach yourself to influential mentors and role models. By observing their actions in all scenarios, you can see what methods they use to influence others as well as the personality traits they possess. Ask them to give you direct and honest feedback on how you can grow your influence.

Understand how others think and operate. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a popular tool that breaks down personality types into 16 categories each with unique interests, reactions, values, motivations and skills. (“MBTI Basics”, n.d.) Acknowledging and comprehending that there are multiple personality types that you are surrounded by will help you choose which influencing style may work best.

Be credible. Just like trust, credibility is tough to earn and easy to lose.

“When it comes to earning and retaining credibility, two key factors are reliability and consistency,” stated Master Sgt. Josh Matias, 14th Operations Group tower chief air traffic controller.

Maintaining transparency and setting the example also play a major role in credibility. Credibility has a direct relationship with influence. Walk the walk!

Knowledge is power. As Master Sgt. Dave Pennington, 14th OG first sergeant says, “Learn your job!”

Being the subject expert in your realm increases your level of influence. Ways to increase your knowledge power include reading, life experience, lessons learned through both failures and successes, and being willing to ask questions. Knowledge power doesn’t necessarily mean you have to know all of the answers. It also includes knowing where to find the answers and the ability to network with those that are experts in their realms.

This is not an all-inclusive list of tips to increase your level of influence but hopefully a good starting point.

“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” - Ken Blanchard

References:
• MBTI Basics. (n.d.). Retrieved August 10, 2018, from https://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/

• Musselwhite, C., & Plouffe, T. (2012, January 13). What’s Your Influencing Style? Retrieved August 10, 2018, from https://hbr.org/2012/01/whats-your-influencing-style