Think of a person in your life who you trust. Why is this person trustworthy? For myself, I would think about the times this friend has shown up for me when I needed her, how she has been honest with me and with herself, and how she has proven herself to have honorable character. 

In the last article, we discussed how power comes from the person who is being influenced. Who you trust is one of the things that you can control, so you can’t force others to trust you. They have to make the choice. If you want to be a person of influence, you must become trustworthy. 


If someone has chosen to be influenced by you, it means they trust your judgment. This is especially true for Referent Power, which is the most effective power type because it is associated with having good character. You’re not ascribed Referent Power because you’re coercing them, they think you’re impressive, or because you have a fancy title. It’s because someone admires you and the way you live. 

Referent Power is not something that you either have or don’t. It can be developed by working to become the best version of yourself and growing into a trustworthy person. There are six pillars of Referent Power, and setting goals in each of these areas will help jumpstart your growth. 

Physical Pillar

Someone’s first impression of you is going to be based on your physical appearance. This is neither a good nor a bad thing, but just the way that life works. Knowing this fact, you should therefore desire to put your best foot forward in this area. 

We don’t want to be pulled into the two extremes of obsessing over looks or not caring about them at all. Strengthening this pillar is not about changing yourself, but about showing up as your best self. 

Social Pillar

This pillar is about how you interact with others. Are you an active listener or do you have a tendency to control the conversation? Do you remember people’s names and follow up on things they told you? Strive to go beyond a superficial connection to build your Social Pillar. 

Mental/ Emotional Pillar

This is a two-part pillar that has to do with making well-informed decisions. Strengthen your Mental Pillar by being a life-long learner and develop your Emotional Pillar by knowing your strengths and weaknesses and seeking to understand others’ perspectives. 

Family/ Team Pillar

It’s important to act consistently in all areas of life, so we need to have integrity not just in our individual decisions, but also in how we work with others. Act out of a We There instead of a Me There to cultivate this pillar. This involves making decisions that are for the greater good, instead of just being concerned with how something affects you. 

Spiritual Pillar

We all trust in something, whether or not it’s an organized religion. We trust in a cause or a way of life, for example. Belief in something outside of yourself helps you gain a big-picture understanding of why you do what you do. This pillar can give you a strong foundation to rely on in times of difficulty. If you are a Christian, everything you do should spring out of this pillar. 

Financial Pillar 

Similarly to the Physical Pillar, strengthening your Financial Pillar is not about changing your circumstances but rather stewarding what you have with wisdom and discretion. This is another area where you can live out your values tangibly and live in a way that is consistent with what you say you believe. 

We all have pillars that we are strong in and ones that don’t come as naturally to us. Pick one to two pillars that are weaker for you and make goals to strengthen that area. 

For example, if I’m trying to strengthen my Mental/Emotional Pillar, I might pick a book to read about a topic that interests me. For my Social Pillar, I could challenge myself to think of new questions instead of my own next answer the next time I go get coffee with a friend. Or for my Financial Pillar I could set up a percentage of my paycheck to automatically go to savings. 

Even if making these changes never gets you any more positional power or acclaim from others, it will have been worth it to learn to live a consistent and trustworthy life. 

Gracie McBride is the Content and Systems Management Coordinator for The Crossroad.