Last week, I delivered a workshop for a client to a group of 25 leaders and managers within a particular business unit. The subject dealt with optimizing their influence, both within their organization and beyond. I thought you might be interested in some of the key points.
The true measure of leadership is influence. As you increase your influence, you increase your leadership and as you increase your leadership, you have stronger impact and achieve greater results. If you want greater results, work on increasing your influence. Although this hopefully seems simple to understand in theory, it is very challenging to achieve in practice. Why is this? I’m glad you asked!
Applying this idea comes down to 2 key elements: our motives and our ability to connect with others.
Think about what the following people have in common: Mother Theresa, Madonna, Bono, Bill Clinton, Tom Brady, Adolf Hitler, Franklin Roosevelt, Michael Jordan, and Katie Couric. Each one of them has been able to connect with a great number of people. Some of these people have what we might call selfless motives, while others operate with purely selfish intent. They all had influence but some used it for good, others not so much.
Influence is our ability to persuade another person or group to our way of thinking such that they are willing to change their behavior and go along with us. Whenever we attempt to influence anyone else, whether it is one of our children, a staff member or a colleague, we can get one of three responses:
- Resistance happens when someone or a group you are trying to influence, flat out disagree with what you are asking them to do. As a result, they may refuse to comply, seek to have you overruled by a higher authority, ignore your wishes actively or subversively sabotage your leadership, or delay or otherwise procrastinate.
- Compliance response generally results in the assignment being carried out, yet only to your exact specifications. This is not ideal because the person is most likely not using their full talents, nor are you receiving their absolute best performance. You may even be kept in the dark regarding new information that you were unaware of when developing your strategy.
- Commitment response is characterized by enthusiasm for getting into the assignment and applying their best possible talents to deliver results to your satisfaction and often to exceed your expectations.
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Obviously, we all would like to have the “commitment” response rather than the other two. The people you are trying to influence will be more likely to give you the commitment response if they know that you care about their growth and development and that you have what they would deem to be the right motives. You have no doubt heard the expression, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Establishing a healthy and strong connection with those you desire to influence requires establishing some common ground. Highly successful leaders share the following characteristics when it comes to their ability to connect and their motives for influencing:
- They care about people as well as profits
- They view those on their team optimistically
- The willingly seek advice from those under them
- They are active listeners – they listen to learn, not to solve problems or defend their actions
My workshop covered a great deal more information on this topic than I have the space to provide in this forum. But if you found this small sampling of content valuable, let’s talk about how I can help you bring this into your organization, to optimize your influence.
PS, I’ve taken much of this material from one of my mentors, John Maxwell. I am licensed to share this material in workshop format to those who are interested. There is much more in the area of leadership and influence that I can share with you, your company or other organizations you think would benefit from spending some time in this area. I’d greatly appreciate any insight you may have on expanding my ability to share and influence others.