Leadership Today: You Have More Influence Than You Think

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If you’ve ever felt ineffective, invisible, or inarticulate, chances are you weren’t actually any of those things. Those feelings may instead have been the result of a lack of awareness we all seem to have for how our words, actions, and even our mere presence affect other people. In this edition of Leadership Today, social psychologist Vanessa Bohns draws from her original research to illustrate why we fail to recognize the influence we have, and how that lack of awareness can lead us to miss opportunities or accidentally misuse our power. Whether attending a meeting, sharing a post online, or mustering the nerve to ask for a favor, we often assume our actions, input, and requests will be overlooked or rejected. Bohns and her work demonstrate that people see us, listen to us, and agree to do things for us much more than we realize — for better, and worse.

Vanessa Bohns is a social psychologist and associate professor of organizational behavior at Cornell. She holds a PhD in Psychology from Columbia and an AB from Brown. Professor Bohns has been a Visiting Scholar at the NYU Stern School of Business and has taught at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management. Her research has been published in top academic journals in psychology, management, and law, and has been featured in The New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and The Economist, among other media outlets. Her popular and business writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review, and her first book You Have More Influence Than You Think (2021, Norton) was published last September.