Despite what you may think, every person has influence.
Granted, it may not be the influence you wish you had, but it is still there. Every day, you have the potential to influence people, both small and large. You have influence on the actions and decisions of family, friends, and any group you are a part of.
However, influence isn’t the same thing as being a leader.
While everyone has influence, not everyone is a leader. This makes intuitive sense, but it also poses a question: if influence doesn’t make a leader, what does?
The answer is that a leader chooses to use that influence to step up and take charge.
A leader knows what kind of influence he or she has, and uses it to change things. The trick isn’t to try and grow your influence before taking charge. Instead, it’s almost the reverse. By taking the lead and offering a plan of attack, the person comes across as someone who knows how to lead. From there, influence spreads throughout the group.
The key is to begin by acting. Do good work, and the influence follows. Write as if your words are being read. Make projects as if you have customers. Get the work out there, and the increase in influence will come.
Influence isn’t a characteristic of a leader. It’s a byproduct of acting.