You’ve heard this before: “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” One of my mentors, John Maxwell has been saying this for years. Translation – if you want to excel at leadership (have more impact, drive greater results and leave a lasting legacy) you have to have extraordinary influencing skills.

I don’t mean skills at manipulating or threatening people; I mean genuine, honest influence. “How do I improve this?”, you may ask.  Well, I’m glad you asked!

This very topic is one of the top seven strategies I speak about in my recently released e-Book, Success In The C-Suite – Top Seven Strategies For Extraordinary Achievement. You can download a complimentary copy of the White Paper I wrote to highlight some of the key principles.

Today, I’d like to share one of the practical ideas I discuss in the e-Book regarding developing and mastering your influencing skills.

As leaders, we have influence over people; if we don’t have influence, we don’t have people following us and we are therefore just on a lonely walk by ourselves. This starts, as all healthy relationships do, with trust. No doubt, you have heard the expression, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” The most successful and influential leaders genuinely care for the people they lead.

They know this is the only way people will go the extra mile without being asked or prodded. Isn’t that what you really want as a leader – people thinking on their own, taking initiative, trying new approaches, conducing more research, going deeper into a situation to determine the best possible solution.  These are great results for people who know their leader has their back.

Think back to the absolute best leader you have known or worked with and I bet one of the traits they had was that you trusted them. You knew where they were headed, and you wanted to get there also. You were willing to follow that person because they gave you hope, confidence and a confidence they could pull it off.

Consider this – if you don’t develop trust in your team, you are actually stunting your own growth. You are placing a lid on your potential simply because you believe you have to ensure all the work, data, answers, recommendations, etc. coming from your department are accurate and perfect. Let’s be honest – you are not perfect, so how can you possibly be on top of your staff to ensure their work is perfect? You can’t and if you do, that stunts your growth and indicates to your staff you don’t trust them.

How do you demonstrate you care? By knowing people, knowing their interests, what motivates them, what’s important to them, their struggles and challenges at work as well as outside. I recently met a leader of a group of 500 people. He actually knows each and every one by first name! Why? Because he cares about them.

So, what can you do to increase your influence? It begins with trust but doesn’t end there. You can begin with trust and do a self-assessment. Ask yourself:

When was the last time one of my staff surprised me with the initiative they took?

When was the last time I celebrated a mistake one of my staff made as a learning opportunity?

When was the last time I was asked my opinion about a personal matter from one of my staff?

When have I had my staff over to my home for a home-cooked meal?

You get the point. If you score low, don’t beat yourself up – make a commitment to change. You can find more tips on developing trust and increasing your influence by reading the White Paper or the eBook.

Remember, leadership is about influence, nothing more, nothing less.

 Photo by: Raul Lieberworth