Updated: Jun 2
We developed a tool to help leaders visualize where their influence imbalances may exist.
The Challenge of Measuring Influence
Effectively measuring interpersonal influence is difficult to do, but there are many tools and aids - both simple and complex - designed to help leaders attempt to do just that.
Through a myriad of personality profiles and leadership assessments, a leader can obtain metrics about their tendencies, traits, and behaviors. From there, 360 evaluations and interviews can be collected from peers and direct reports that can help a leader to better understand how their tendencies, traits, and behaviors work together to impact and influence those around them.
Still, influence is particularly complex to measure because it has less to do with who a leader is or what that leader does, and more to do with who others feel that leader is and how they experience that leader's actions and behaviors.
Considering this subjective truth about influence, we believe that self-awareness is the single greatest indicator of influence potential.
The more you know about how others see you, the more you see yourself.
While feedback from others is always necessary for a leader to grow, there are at least three questions that we believe every leader should be asking themselves in order to better gauge the potential depth and reach of their own influence potential. Those questions are as follows:
Resource: What kind of resource am I?
Relationship: What kind of relationship do I have with the people in the room that I desire to be in?
Reputation: How am I known, and what is that story that others are telling themselves about me?
Having the answers to these questions can help a leader to not only identify their influence gaps, but to also begin developing a strategy to close those gaps in an effort to grow their influence.
We created a simple a 3-axis graph as a tool to help leaders visualize the answers to these three critical questions. More practical than theoretical, the graph offers a visual for those attempting to “see” their influence gaps after it has been deconstructed along what we consider to be the 3-Dimensions of Influence; Resource, Relationship, and Reputation.
How It Works
The graph is comprised of 3 axes. At the very center of the graph where each of the axes converge, there is a value of 0. A score of 0 represents someone who ranks exceptionally below average when compared to others in a particular influence area.
Moving away from the center and outward along each of the individual axes, you will find a maximum value of 10. A score of 10 represents someone who stands exceptionally apart from others in a particular influence area. For neutrality, a score of 5 represents someone who is average.
To use the tool, simply plot the numerical score directly along each respective axis. Then, connect each plotted point together with three straight lines, ultimately revealing a triangle. Everything inside of that triangle represent a leader's positive influence potential. Anything outside of that triangle represents a leader's negative influence potential.
The sample graph above provides a complete visual for a hypothetical leader who might score themselves a 9 out of 10 in Resource, a 3 out of 10 in Relationship, and a 4 out of 10 in Reputation. Once plotted this way, it is easy to see that this leader would have significantly more negative influence potential to contend with than positive influence potential to yield.
That said, this leader would also conclude that their competency is competing with companionship and that they would immediately benefit from cultivating deeper relationships with others and expanding their network. Becoming a greater resource to more people will ultimately increase this leader's reputation as well.
If you would like to see how your own influence potential looks once plotted out on our graph like the one above, we've attached a blank copy below for you to download and complete on your own! Just print and plot!
Ryan Dunlap is a conflict strategist and the founder of Conflictish, a conflict strategy consultancy dedicated to helping leaders navigate all of the 'ish that comes with conflict. From tarnished rapport to hellish attitudes to sluggish performance, Conflictish helps leaders get 'ish done.