To be influential – be influenceable

I’ve been running a number of workshops recently that revolve around enhancing participant’s influencing skills – for those in matrix management situations and those in technical or professional advice roles. I’ve been struck by the difference between what I call ‘service oriented’ people and ‘professionally / technically oriented’ people. The professionally / technically oriented participants value and are rewarded for being “right” while the service people are valued and rewarded for establishing relationships.

What seems to happen is that technically oriented people, confuse being “influenceable” with giving in and so resist the message that they can become more influential by being prepared to be influenced by others.

This reminds me of the Harvard Business Review article by Duncan Watts, who questions some of Malcolm Gladwell’s assumptions from The Tipping Point. Gladwell claims: “I think that word of mouth is something created by three very rare and special psychological types” [of influentials].

In contrast,Watts and his colleagues argue that rather than a few very influential people, social epidemics are created by a lot of influenceable people, who all influence each other.

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