Money talks, and it’s one of the strongest motivators out there. It’s the reason you’ll go into work tomorrow morning, it’s the reason for so many wars, and it’s the reason that I, as a broke student, eat lentils and rice for dinner a lot of nights. But there are a ton of other currencies that can people believe you hold in addition to money.
In the book Influence Without Authority, Allan Cohen identifies 17 workplace currencies you hold, whether you know it or not, that help you to influence other people. Unless you work at Apple, there is probably only so much money to go around where you work, so knowing what other currencies you can use to do your job is becoming more and more important.
I hope you don’t mind: I have made liberal changes to the currencies Cohen has identified, usually only to make them less influence-y, and a bit more human and applicable outside of workplace settings.
10 currencies you own that are worth more than money are:
- Other Resources. When you don’t have money to give to people, you almost always have other resources to spend, like your time and attention.
- Information and Expertise. Being liberal with the information you share with other people, like by taking the time to share technical knowledge or expertise. Sharing information and expertise is especially fruitful in a workplace setting.
- Network/Contacts. Building and nurturing the personal relationships and professional network you have is a terrific way to gain personal and professional ‘currency’. I know I don’t have to expunge the benefits of maintaining rich relationships on this blog; after all, the readers of this blog are very well-connected, not to mention very sexy.
- Visibility. Providing other people greater visibility for their messages (like by re-sharing something on social media) also heightens how other people think of you.
- Understanding. When people know that you take the time to to listen to what they are saying, you better believe people’s fondness of you will increase.
- Kindness. Going above and beyond the call of duty to help others and cooperate with them is a surefire way to earn their respect.
- Gratitude. Appreciating the help others give you to not take it for granted.
- Recognition. Recognizing how hard the people around you work (especially at your work). If they don’t work hard, recognizing the rare instances of hard work when they do occur will let people know that you care, and will motivate them to care more as well.
- Acceptance. Providing friendship and closeness to everyone you meet and work with.
- Personal Support. Backing someone not only with your words, but also with your actions, and emotionally.
When a person has a lot of money currency to redistribute in an organization, it is easy for them to neglect the other currencies that helped make them successful in the first place. While some people may cunningly climb up the ladder of an organization through deceit and manipulation, the good leaders (and the ones who will stay leaders) focus on the other currencies that matter. But money’s always nice, of course.
Photo credit: Tristan Martin.