Power and Influence

Recently, Seth Godin pointed out that you don’t own attention or trust or shelf space. You rent it and it has a cancellation clause. As soon as you behave as if you own it, it goes away.

Power and influence are transient too. You need to nurture both if you want to keep them.

A Cree chief once told me that traditionally he, as chief, had unlimited power. Right up to the point where he could order someone to be killed if he wanted to. But, he went on, it is a funny kind of power. It is there if you don’t try to use it and it may not be there if you do try to use it.

“It is like in your world. The pedestrian has the right of way and the man is the head of the house and they are both safe if they don’t try to prove it.”

Long-time relationships with clients are like that. You have the ability to influence people based on your history. You will have influence only as long as you nurture the relationship. Fail and it goes away.

You will continue to have it as long as you don’t try to use it exclusively to your own advantage.

If either happens, you lose your power.

In life, and in business, recognize that you have ownership of only one side of any relationship. You have to earn the other side.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario. don.s@protectorsgroup.com

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