Types of Influence

February 7th, 2012 — 5:30am

Lately I’m thinking a lot about influence. As a prelude to charting a course of intentional influence with the rest of my life, I’ve been thinking about what types of influence exist. What are my options, basically.

Here’s a stab at a rough taxonomy of influence:

Influence Everyone Has

Self Influence: You are the person you have the most influence on. We all have a huge opportunity to make a difference by changing ourselves.

Individual Task Influence: This is contributing as a member of a team to make an organization run, or accomplish specific tasks on your own. These contributions are often unsung, but the collective results can be world-changing.

Individual Interpersonal Influence: This is parenting, coaching, managing, mentoring one-on-one. Everyone has huge opportunity to make a difference by positively impacting the people they are involved with. (A sub-type is Professional Individual Interpersonal Influence, like the influence that a professional therapist or professional coach has.)

Influence Everyone Can Have if They Choose To

Individual Giving Influence: This is donating to a cause or project. This can range in scale from a quarter in the bucket to establishing a multi-billion-dollar charitable foundation.

Individual Creative Influence: This is bringing something into the world that didn’t exist before. An individual researcher who finds a cure, or an inventor who solves a quality-of-life problem are examples of high-impact individual creative influence.

Influence Given to Some People by Other People

Organizational Leadership Influence: This is influence in a group of people through leadership (strategy, vision, decision-making, etc). This covers groups ranging in size from a small club to a large nation. CEO’s, ministers, managers, board members and elected officials, are some examples of people with this kind of influence.

Public Thought Influence: This is speaking to a mass audience through a platform such as a book, popular media, or the Internet. It’s hard to be heard through all the noise, but voices that resonate can make big change.

Viral Thought Influence: This is individual interpersonal influence that may start small but spreads exponentially, like influencing two people who each influence two people, and so on. Some worldwide religions started this way.

Circles of Influence

Generally faithful and successful activity in the “smaller” circles of influence leads to increased opportunity for influence in the larger circles. So in a loose sense, there is a progression of influence in each person’s life.

What Am I Missing?

I’m sure this is not an exhaustive list. Can you think of major types of influence I haven’t included here? Maybe an example of someone who had a big impact on a small or large scale? Contact me and let me know.

P.S. As part of re-calibrating my avenues of influence, I’ll be writing less often on this blog, at least for a while, but no less than once a week.