The Most Powerful Tool We Have Is Influence—Here’s How to Wield It

UPDATED: June 26, 2023
PUBLISHED: May 25, 2022
The Most Powerful Tool We Have Is Influence—Here’s How to Wield It

“Hell isn’t a place, it’s other people,” is a quote loosely translated from French philosopher Jean-Paul Satre’s one-act play No Exit. Keynote speaker Todd Davis got a chuckle from the SUCCESS Live Long Beach crowd when he asked if anyone could relate to this quote. The response of the crowd stems from the fact that we’re often measured by the results we get, but our results rely on other people—“People who won’t do, or change, or behave the way we want them to,” said Davis.

 Davis, who is the chief people officer for FranklinCovey and author of Get Better: 15 Proven Practices to Build Effective Relationships at Work, says 30 years of coaching the world’s most successful leaders about legendary author Stephen R. Covey’s development principles has taught him this: Change stems from influence, and influence comes from successful relationships with others. Because we get results through others, the most powerful tool we have is the ability to influence—starting with ourselves before learning to influence others. “Meaningful change starts with us,” he said.

“The most effective successful influential people look in the mirror every day to ask themselves, ‘What do I need to do differently today?’” —Todd Davis

This article was published in October 2017 and has been updated. Photo by Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

Todd Davis is the author of Get Better: 15 Proven Practices to Build Effective Relationships at Work. He is also a co-author of Talent Unleashed: 3 Leadership Conversations to Ignite the Unlimited Potential in People. Davis has over 30 years of experience in human resources, talent development, executive recruiting, sales, and marketing. He has been with FranklinCovey for over 20 years, and currently serves as chief people officer and executive vice president. He is responsible for FranklinCovey’s global talent development in over 40 offices reaching 160 countries. For over 25 years, Davis has delivered numerous keynote addresses and speeches at leading business, industry and association conferences. His topics include leadership, personal and interpersonal effectiveness, employee engagement, talent management, change management and building winning cultures. Davis has also served on’s Advisory Board for the Institute of Human Resources and is a member of the Association for Talent Development (ATD) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).