I overheard a conversation the other day about what makes people in business & life successful. The ideas revolved around credentials; getting an MBA, working at a big company, learning a language.

The truth is, credentials are secondary to influence.

Influence is the only way to explain how people without credentials are able to succeed, and how certain people with credentials succeed at a much higher level than the rest of us.

Without influence, your life looks a lot like this:

  • Your kids disobey you
  • Employees ignore you
  • People go behind your back
  • You lack self-respect
  • You struggle to discipline yourself
  • Dreams you once seem like impossible wishes
  • Growing a business seems impossible

We need influence to achieve our dreams. But how?

How to Create Influence

I’ll be the first to admit that writing this article is more for myself than for everyone else. I am all too aware of the need in my own life for influence. Here’s what I know though…

Influence starts by accepting what you can control.

There are many things in life we wish we could control; things we wish we could influence. We can only actually influence a small portion of those things, though.

For instance, you can’t control what your employees or coworkers say about others. But you can control what you say about others. And as you respect the control and influence you do have, that influence grows.

Influence grows when we teach people.

I have a close friend whom I respect greatly. One of the reasons I respect him so much is because he is always teaching me and those around me.

A couple weeks ago I made a mistake at work. I created an experience for a customer that was too long and required too much effort on the customer’s part. Instead of reaching out and merely saying “hey, you should have done this differently,” he said to me “have you ever heard of a customer effort score?” Intrigued, I asked him to tell me more.

He taught me about customer effort scores, and how great customer experiences require little to no effort on the customer’s part.

Then, he pointed out the mistake I made by saying “if you had done this part a little differently, you could have made the customer’s experience more effortless.”

By teaching me about effortless customer experiences first, I was open to any and all feedback he had for me. He gained influence over me by first teaching me how to think about customer experience.

(NOTE: Speaking of teaching… build your influence by teaching your team with the Service Business Training Library. For $97 / month you get access to over 150 training videos, webinars, and scripts for your CSRs, Technicians, and Leaders.)

About a week later I saw him do the same thing with one of my colleagues. My colleague asked him a question, and instead of answering the question directly he started to explain how to think about the problem.

He said “I like to think about what’s going to create the best experience for the customer. So, I’d probably do it like this.”

Once again, he began by teaching us how to think about the situation, he gained influence over us, and we were fully receptive to his advice.

Influence Grows When We Challenge People

I was late to work on my second day at a new office. My manager immediately said to me “hey, you can’t be late. You’ve got to get here and prepare to start the day. Coming in two minutes late can’t happen. It’s all good now, but I want you to be successful and that’s how it’s gonna happen.”

His direct and challenging feedback gave him influence over me. Was I taken back by how stern he was? Absolutely.

But imagine how much worse I would have felt, and how much more contentious it would have been if he had waited a few weeks and let me be late several times.

Influence explodes when we set the example.

This comes back to focusing on what we can control.

If you’re patient, you will see that the act of consistently showing and giving your best self to the work will gain you more influence than anything else. People trust and follow those who are consistent and set the example.

Don’t ask for permission.

You don’t need anyone’s permission to start creating more influence. Just start.

Start focusing on what you can control, start teaching others in conversation, start challenging others, and start leading by example.

That’s all it takes. You don’t need your boss to approve this, and you don’t need an employee feedback survey to tell you it’s time. Start doing it today.

So, what are you waiting for? Start building some influence, and watch where it takes you.

(NOTE: Here’s one more thing you don’t need permission for… build your influence by teaching your team with the Service Business Training Library. For $97 / month you get access to over 150 training videos, webinars, and scripts for your CSRs, Technicians, and Leaders.)

Zac Garside is just a young dad with a beautiful family and goal to spend his 40th birthday on a bungalow in Bora Bora.

He also can’t decide if it’s more appropriate to write his bio in the first person or third person, but that’s neither here nor there.

Dream big.