Want Greater Power and Influence? Establish Trust and Credibility.

Written by Andrea Williams, HR Organization and Professional Development

“Influencers” are all over the news, but what does it mean to be a true influencer in the workplace? It’s not about your number of Instagram followers, but rather knowing — and practicing — the skills that strengthen personal power and influence.

Positional vs. Personal Power

To start, it’s important to be aware of the characteristics and value of both positional and personal power.

Positional power is influence directly related to your position. People react to this form of power because they have to. It can help ensure strong leadership and resolute decision making and enables the direction of others to complete tasks, establish processes and procedures, and make decisions quickly.

Personal power is influence you earn by obtaining the respect of others. People respond to this form of power because they want to, not because they have to. This form of influence is often shown by people who are great at their jobs — they have strong networks and relationships, expertise and knowledge, and have established themselves as being reliable and trustworthy.

Personal power can be as influential as positional power and is completely unrelated to your job title.

Building Personal Power: Trust Is Key

True, positive influence is not coercion or manipulation. Rather, the foundation of influence and personal power comes from trust. Keep in mind the traits that help build trust:

  • openness
  • reliability
  • humility
  • use of facts
  • empathy and loyalty
  • authenticity

Think about experiences you have had and how you responded — or could have responded — to build trust:

  • When there have been problems, in what ways have you helped through your expertise, empathy, or reason?
  • When someone has required your assistance, have you helped willingly while keeping confidences and being reliable?
  • What have you done, or not done, to build trust during periods of conflict or turmoil?
  • How have you responded to opportunities to listen and try to understand others?

Remember that trust can be built or broken. To establish and maintain trust, it’s imperative to be open and honest, admit shortfalls, stick to the facts, and don’t betray confidences.

The Power of Credibility

Being trustworthy is a major component of credibility, and developing credibility is critical to wield greater influence. Ways to build credibility include:

  • Be open to sharing knowledge and resources. Establish and utilize your networks and relationships to do your best and help others when you can.
  • Be confident in your abilities but not arrogant. Acknowledge and be open to the expertise and contributions of others. Have the capacity to say, “I don’t know. What are your ideas?”
  • Walk the walk. Be authentic, fair, and transparent. Show integrity and display good character. Prove your reliability by always following through.

To be a skilled and powerful influencer, you must be trustworthy and credible. Use your credibility to demonstrate that what you want will help others achieve what they want. Follow through on your agreements and commitments, and you’ll achieve the personal power that comes from being a true influencer.


Skillsoft Ireland Limited. Personal Power and Credibility. Retrieved March 1, 2021 from https://elevateu.skillport.com/skillportfe/main.action?path=summary/COURSES/comm_42_a01_bs_enus  

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