Back in January I asked a question: Do Leaders Understand Their Influence? I asked that question because I've been talking a lot about this concept of influence in other places and, at least in my mind, influence and leadership go hand in hand.

The strange thing about it all is that it seems many people view the concept of influence as a negative thing. That's because the definition of the word indicates "having the power to convince people to do what you want them to do." On its own it sounds nefarious, but is it?

Let's think about being a manager in an office anywhere in the world. What's your job? Your job is to get everyone that reports to you to do the best they can at what they do so that your department succeeds, and then hopefully the company succeeds.

Now, just with the title you automatically have some influence, but wouldn't it be nice if you could have influence as an extension of the position? In other words, if you could get people to work better for you because you've helped give them the tools they need to be better and the encouragement needed to work harder, wouldn't you appreciate that more than trying to use the title to scare them into doing better?

On my other blog while talking about influence I stated that how it's used depends on whether the person that attains it either wants to be Hitler or Oprah. Receiving some personal gain from influence isn't always a bad thing, but it's what you decide you want to do with the influence that determines how good or bad something is.

Do you want influence to be able to dominate everyone else, to scare them into doing what you want so you can be top dog? Do you want influence to be able to convince people that your cause is just and that, with their participation, things can be better? Do you want influence so you can move up the ladder of success?

Or would you run as far as you can away from being influential? Are you the type that will always sit in the room and never comment on anything? Are you the type that wants to complain from afar but never take any steps to change anything? Are you the type that doesn't want leadership, or doesn't really want to take the steps to be a better leader because you feel the title is enough for you?

Think about it with these two questions. One, do you want to have any influence? Two, if so, how could you see it helping yourself and others, if that's your goal?