Increasing your influence regardless of rank
By Master Sgt. Jordan Boothe, 14th Operations Support Squadron
/ Published August 24, 2018
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
• 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