One of the most important aspects of getting ahead in business or advancing your career is to have influence. The problem with influence is that few women, or men, really understand what this term actually means. Influence is the ability to get other people to do what you want them to do. Having this ability means that you have a real leg up on advancing in your career and in business. All too often, people of both sexes equate having influence with being ruthless and highly aggressive; however, these traits don’t necessarily equate to influence.

Being a woman of influence means that other people respect and value you. If people don’t respect and value your input, and what you can do for them, then you will have little or no influence over them. Influence is about perceived worth and value. If that perception is lacking, you will have a tough time building influence and advancing your career and aims.

How do you go about boosting your influence? The first step is to make yourself valuable within an organization and to others. Problem solvers get noticed and are seen as having value.

Additionally, being able to solve other problems or perform tasks that others can’t goes along way toward increasing the perception of your value. This means that you have to make sure that your skills are evident and that people understand your contribution. Of course, this doesn’t mean “tooting your own horn” too often. In fact, that could actually lead to the perception that you are an egomaniac, weak or both!

Consistent and proven displays of skill will lead to respect. This will lead, in turn, to a degree of influence. If your skill sets are seen as a rare commodity that can directly help the people around you then all the better, as you will be well on your way toward being a woman of influence.

Influence can be gained via fear, but that approach opens up its own problems. The old saying, “live by the sword, die by the sword,” is well suited for many workplace environments. In other words, make too many enemies and you’re forced to not only be looking over your shoulder everyday, but you may also be the victim of a workplace reprisal.

The much safer route is to be needed and have skills that are deemed as either irreplaceable or extremely difficult and costly to replace. If you can accomplish this goal, you won’t just be seen as a person of influence; you will be a person of influence.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Madeline Ann Lewis is the President/CEO of the Executive Women’s Success Institute ( in Maryland. She is a career strategist, speaker, trainer, consultant and the author of Finding Your Best Inside: How to Persevere and Become the Person You Are Meant to Be and Playing from the Blue Tee: Women in the Federal Government. Reach her by e-mail at