Power and Influence in Nationstates
An article on NS Politics and Leadership, by Donchatryit
Welcome to Power and Influence in Nationstates, the first in a series of articles by experienced diplomat, recruiter and trainer, Donchatryit. In this class we will look at the difference between holding power and wielding influence in nationstates, as well as examining how they interact and why, in the long run, influence is of greater lasting value than power.
First off, let’s define the two terms. For the purposes of this discussion, power is the ability of a person to make decisions that affect the course of their region or alliance in some way. The most obvious example of this is when someone holds an office in a region. If, for instance, they are the Immigration Minister, they have power over how immigration is organised, what nations are targeted and how many people work under them. Similarly, if someone is the Foreign Minister, in most cases, they will have a measure of power over what embassies to open or close, when to post updates and how the region is seen abroad.
This power to make decisions of some consequence is the reason why most players will naturally seek to hold positions of power. For them, the idea of making an impact on the life of the region is attractive. They may even feel that they can improve on the work that has been done before.
If power is the ability to make important decisions, what is influence? Influence, simply put, is the amount of weight that others give to your views. It is distinctly harder to measure. You can be an influencer without holding any office of power. One simple example is the influence that Leg-ends still has in the way that UN policy is shaped in ACCEL, despite the fact that he works in an entirely different department. His opinions are given a lot of weight and his support or opposition to an idea can say a lot about how well it will fare in the rest of the alliance.
What about in GB&I? Well, we recently saw people try to use their influence to change the result of a vote. Do you remember the vote on whether there should be a second administrator? It is obvious that many voted a certain way because people they respect gave an opinion on the issue, one way of another. We also so this in the support that came behind Klopstock for the role of Prime Minister. In fact, it could be said that winning the job of PM is the most obvious example of the strength of influence of an MP. If they can influence others to think that they will be a good PM, they are very likely to get the job.
So how do you attain power and influence in a region? The answer to this does vary a little but the formula below does give an indication of how things usually work.
The more active you are + the more of a good reputation you build + the more helpful you are =
the more likely you are to receive a position of power.
The more active you remain + the more positive achievements you attain + (the higher your previous position - (3 * any times you have let the region down) ) + (2 * the more influence you have) =
The higher your next position is likely to be.
Notice that the formula for gaining an initial position of power is simpler than for each subsequent level. This is because, in most regions, activity and helpfulness can actually mask any deficiencies in skill or knowledge that you have at the start. Plus, continued activity has a way of teaching you skills that you didn’t have before and giving you the knowledge you need to progress.
In the second formula, the highest weighting of all is given to the times you have let the region down. In my own experience, I have seen this one factor hold back the careers of otherwise capable people. The problem is that, in most cases, it is easier to recover from not being given a position of power than it is to recover from having one and making a mess of it. Think of the power people will give you being based on the amount of credibility you have. Not imagine credibility can be measured on a scale from -10 (you are seen as a waster) to +10 (you are seen as a genius). Now, most new members will start at 0 until people get to know them better. If you do well and stay active, you will gain a few points, and at that point people might be more likely to give you a job.
On the other hand, if you get a job and make a mess of it, you will almost certainly drop into the negatives and will have to battle hard to even make it back to 0, never mind into the positives. Keep this in mind whenever you run for office. This rule is the number one reason why it is often better to wait a little while before you try to get elected. Power is lost a lot more easily than it is won.
Now what about influence? It is hard to put a formula on this but it might go something like this:
The longer you have been in a region + the more often you have solved problems in the past + (2 * the more often you have solved a problem for the person concerned) + the better the relationship you have with a person =
the greater your positive influence on them.
Notice that influence is personal. You cannot hope to gain influence in a region until you have gained influence on the people in that region. Also, your influence over individual people is determined more by how you relate to them personally and how much you have helped them than on your previous achievements. This is something many leaders forget.
Many people are ready to go all out for the region and will work their hardest, only to become frustrated when they hit a block somewhere. They might understand how to gain power but can’t seem to keep it for long. Or, they may have power but not have enough room to use it. Why? They lack a knowledge of influence.
Influence is far longer lasting than power. The main thing I have seen reduce someone’s influence is a breakdown in working relationships. When relationships break down, one of the vital components in influence is gone. If this is not seen to early, the weight given to how much you have helped someone in the past is reduced and gradually your influence wains.
When you have built good relationships with people, they tend to be more forgiving about small oversights than they would be if there was no relationship there. If you have a good relationship with them, the chances are they will take you more seriously when you want them to do something. In this way, influence works even when you don’t have much power. I have seen people who have no office at all influence elections or policy decisions when those who had power couldn’t. I have also seen those who hold power lean on those who have influence to help them get a better result from those who work for them.
In a game like NS when all roles are voluntary and there is no possibility of using the usual ways of motivating people, your influence over people will be the top factor in how well they work for you. Influence takes a lot longer to build than it takes to achieve most offices of power, but without influence, having an office is almost meaningless. So there you have it, build relationships, learn to influence people and watch the results.