WHEN I AM ASKED who I most remember meeting, a handful of names spring to mind and in my book I analyse why. My conclusion is that the names I come up with have ‘clout.’ It’s an elusive and mystical quality but you know when it’s there.
If I asked you who you knew with clout, you would probably be able to identify them pretty quickly too. If I asked you about people with power or influence, the list would be longer and it would take you longer to consider.
Clout is more of a reaction than a characteristic, you sense it in someone instinctively. It’s better to think of it as a mindset. People with clout know what they want and how to get it. They’re winners. You might not even like them but you do respect them and perhaps wish you had a bit more of what they had too.
So how do you gain clout? Well, if you look at those who have it, you will notice how different they all are. They don’t fit in to one personality type. That means they must have picked something up along the way, consciously or otherwise. It must be something that can be learned.
So which comes first? Does clout come from success or does success come from clout? Your clout certainly increases with success but you need to ask, Hoe did you get that first break? Someone must have seen something in you. They caught a glimpse of your clout, otherwise known as ‘potential.’ Clout therefore comes before success.
In my book, I break it down in to six elements I call the 6Cs. The first three relate to who you are and the second three to where you are.
Who are you?
Do you have a sense of cause? People will only give you an opportunity if they feel you are in it for something bigger than your own ambition and that they will get something out of it too. You want to be chief exec? Then you need to convince the board you have a plan for turning the organisation around because they aren’t going to appoint you just because you want to be in charge.
Do you have the credibility to speak to that cause? People will only take you seriously if they know you have the right expertise and experience.
Are you of good character? Can you be trusted to follow through with your promises or will you let people down? Are you honest and consistent?
Where are you?
Are you having the right conversations in the right places? If not, then you are never going to realise your clout because you will be speaking in to a vacuum. You need to be on the right platforms speaking to the right audiences about the right issues.
How are you going to connect with those audiences? People don’t want to be told what to think. You need to engage them by showing empathy and offering a solution.
Finally, you need to develop your cachet which is where you develop the other 5Cs to the point that nobody else can compete and you become central to the conversation. You can then start steering it towards your cause and that’s when you realise your clout and you are on your way to achieving your goals.
Clout isn’t something you’re born with, it’s a mindset and it defines your success. All the successful people I am speaking to in my podcast series illustrate that. We all have hang-ups but those that break through refuse to be held back by them.