My 15-year-old daughter has seven teachers at school. I asked her, “Of your instructors, how many would you say really care about you as a person?”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“How many of your teachers speak with you in a way that communicates they care about you as a person,” I said, “And see you as more than just another student in their class?”
After thinking for a bit, she answered: “Two.” And then she told me their names.
A couple of days later, when I was confident the previous discussion had disappeared from her immediate memory, I asked my daughter, “Of your seven classes, which are your favorites?”
I shouldn’t have been surprised by the answer: Her favorite classes are taught by the two teachers she had identified in the earlier discussion. And, an important note: They’re also the classes that my daughter gives her greatest effort.
(Imagine what my daughter’s life would be like if the five other teachers succeeded in communicating to her that they care.)
The same holds true in the workplace, of course. We’re exiting the era where influence was primarily a function of positional authority. In today’s connected world, influence isn’t granted just because I work for you, it’s earned.
In other words, I give you permission to shape my thinking and actions not because of where you went to school, what position you hold, or how many years of experience you have – but because you’ve convinced me of one important thing: You care…about me and what I care about.
Therefore, how to expand your span of influence is a function of expanding how much you care. Those who care more can influence more.