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Why is the Competency of “Impact and Influence” so Important?

‘‘Impact and influence’’ is the other competency that research regularly demonstrates as a critical factor in differentiating between the merely good and the truly great. In studies done of three different job families—managerial/supervisory, technical/ professional, and sales— impact and influence was either the highest or second-highest competency that distinguished truly outstanding performers from those whose performance was fully successful. (Achievement orientation was the other.)

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Other names and labels this competency goes by include networking, strategic influence, persuasive skills, and power motivation. The behavioral indicators of impact and influence are outlined in the following checklist.

Impact and Influence Checklist

  • Builds reliable networks before they are needed.
  • Seeks advice from people who have been successful in promoting similar ideas.
  • Anticipates the effect of an action or proposal on people’s image of the speaker.
  • Assembles political coalitions; builds ‘‘behind the scenes’’ support for ideas.
  • Uses group process to lead or influence a group.
  • Anticipates and prepares for others’ reactions.

Hot Tip

Do some of the items sound like ‘‘playing politics’’? That’s a common complaint lodged against people who successfully develop and use influence skills. But politics is simply the ability to obtain and use power—a neutral attribute. Remember, the only people who complain about ‘‘politics’’ are the losers.