in Career Development, Improvement & Development, Leadership, Leading People, Leading Projects, Social Media

6 Lessons On Creating a Lasting Influence


Mahatma Gandhi, as we know, was a simple man who had no position, no wealth, no power and no authority. Yet, he altered the course of history by leading India to Independence through power of people. How could a man with no formal authority take on an empire and influence the hearts and minds of so many people across the country?

Gandhi’s impact is a testimony to the fact that you don’t need positional power to influence others. No matter who you are or where you are in the order, you can make a difference.

Every time I think of influence, I think of Gandhi. He worked with others and through others to achieve his objectives. In the process, he never compromised on his own principles.

In an organizational context, ability to influence is at the heart of a leader’s success in driving changes, building great teams, delivering results and implementing the strategic vision. At an individual level, your ability to influence others is at the core of building relationships, creating a network and achieving your goals.

How does one generate influence? What are the building blocks to be considered? Here is what I have learned about generating influence:

  1. Having substance is a pre-requisite for generating influence. An empty vessel only makes more noise. Having real accomplishments, experience, subject matter expertise, passion for the subject and credibility are the foundations on which influence can happen.
  2. Trust, as in leadership, is the currency of influence. People get influenced and change only when they trust you. People trust you when you deliver what you promise, speak from your heart and be integral and ethical.
  3. Thought leadership accelerates trust and hence influence. When you challenge conventional beliefs, advance the ideas and provide new points of view, people get engaged and start trusting. Gandhi’s idea of non-violence serves as a great example of thought leadership.
  4. Influence spreads on pollens of generous actions. The process of influencing others start with a genuine intention to share and contribute first. It is not about what you want to say, but what helps others.
  5. Only intention is not enough, commitment is the key. Influence is rarely generated overnight. It requires commitment, patience and being persistent over a long time.
  6. Real influence provokes change. Influence is only valuable when it provokes change in how people operate and think; when it inspires them to take required action. It is a myth that just having an audience and followers means influence.

Join in the conversation: Who are you influenced by? What are specific qualities that you are influenced by? Share your lessons!

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  1. Incidentally, I watched DVDs of a BBC serial : The Fall of Eagles, wherein the intrigues of three European Empires and that of Bolshevik revolution in that backdrop has been narrated quite tellingly.
    That also, brings the history of another great revolutions – China and France – and related readings to the memory.
    And this is where, the value of what Gandhiji could achieve – freedom (the ultimate goal) form so strongly disposed opposition (external market forces) through the most disparate of forces of people (a nation divided by castes, creeds and religions) – as a Leader.
    It is this soft style of his leadership which puts him on quite a different pedestal.
    That also teaches the mortal management professionals about the commitment to values and caring for the fellow humans as so vital soft thread of a leadership style.

  2. An excellent post, Tanmay, as usual. As organizations become increasingly complex and matrixed, the ability to influence without authority becomes one of the most important leadership skills of this decade. I don’t know which I like better – your post or your spectacular photo!

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