Have you ever wondered how come some people are able to influence others effortlessly? They seem to walk into the room and everyone listens to their opinion. Leadership and influence go hand in hand. In these next couple of blog posts I want to deconstruct influence, so that you can increase in your influence.
My father is a great leader and someone of immense influence in his field. He would agree that he isn’t particularly charismatic; he is a strong introvert. He is smart without being brilliant. He used to have a position, but now he holds no position, yet people all over the country listen to him and put into practice his suggestion. How?
My father has four attributes that enable influence to develop. Not everyone has all four attributes and abilities. Sometimes one is enough.
What are the four attributes?
1. Self-Awareness – All leaders need to build on the foundations of self-awareness. A leader must have a clear understanding of who they are, their values, their strengths, weaknesses, how they impact on others, and their leadership style.
One of the biggest areas that a leader needs to be aware of is how they impact those around them. Often a leader is the most influential person in a meeting. Being aware of their ‘power’ hopefully means they are mindful of when and how they weigh in on a discussion. One leader I know tells his team at the beginning of a discussion, “I want to hear all of your thoughts before I say anything so that you aren’t filtering what you say with me in mind.”
2. Big Picture – A leader, as opposed to a manager, must be able to effectively communicate their vision and expectations to all stakeholders. If people don’t have a clear idea of where they are headed, and what the end result looks like, they will be demotivated. Good leaders go beyond vision and develop strategies to enact the goals. Leaders are able to define reality for those they are leading. This means they are able to articulate what is happening in the internal and external environment. This is the necessary fuel for create change. To create change you need a big enough lever. The most effective lever is to create a sense of urgency and dissatisfaction about the present. This enables people to be ready for a new vision of the future and the key priorities.
3. Build Trust – A leader must have strong relationships with those they are leading so that they will follow confidently. Even when times are difficult and tough things need to be done, if people trust in their leader and their decisions, they will give their all. Trust is built through having integrity, positive intent, appropriate capacity and consistent results. When you do what you said you would do, trust is developed.
We all know that there are formal and informal leaders in every organisation. There are some people that everyone trusts. They might be the people who go to in-order to get a read on what the mood is. There are some people who you know have influence with a group of people because of they long-term relationships.
As an exercise – see if you can list who those people are in your organisation and what attributes and characteristics they have in common.
4. Develop People – Leaders create environments where employees can succeed. For an employee to do their best, they must be able to develop their abilities. Employees who are challenged, encouraged, enabled and allowed to use their talents and do their best are highly productive. It’s an investment that comes back to the company. Leaders know how to delegate which enables the various parts to build a compelling whole.
Great leaders understand that everything that gets done; gets done through people. A leader that is still in hands on doing mode, hasn’t made the mental shift to leader. Leader understands that 60-90% of their job is developing, supervising and delegating to those around them.
How do you think you are growing and going as a leader?
Here are four questions that you can reflect on yourself, or better still ask 3-5 people you trust to give their honest opinions.
- Am I open and accepting about the things that I am good and not so good at? Do I dabble too much in things that I shouldn’t?
- Do I paint a clear and compelling picture of the future that inspires movement forward with passion for our organisation?
- Do people trust that I am going to do what I say I will?
- Do people believe that I am focused on developing them or feathering my own nest?
We’d love to hear you feedback?
Are there any other keys that you think develops a leaders influence?