It’s Your Time To Become an Influential Leader
‘The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.’
~ Kenneth Blanchard
At the most basic level, influence is about compliance—getting someone to do something that you want them to do. But achieving genuine commitment from other people, not just base level compliance, is needed if you want to reach your goals within your team and organisation.
Rather than prescribing a course of action and having followers carry out tasks, exceptional leadership involves a collaborative effort. Yes, there must be buy-in–but it’s more than giving commands. In fact, it’s the art of motivating–or influencing–your team towards a common goal. In order to achieve this, exceptional and influential leaders must bring to the table an ability to strategise, energise, motivate, muster and most of all, influence.
The most influential leaders - those who are best at influencing others - are skilled at tapping into the motivations, emotions and underlying drivers that lead to their team’s actions. You can see these influential leaders easily from the outside because they’re the ones with an army of followers acting in support of their mission or cause.
Leading to Influence and Leading to Inspire - Why You Need BOTH
There is a difference between leading with influence and leading with inspiration. And this really comes down to a feeling.
Influence means affecting or changing the way someone, or something develops, behaves or thinks.
Inspiration is making someone feel that they want to do something and can do it.
‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’
~ Maya Angelou
Influence is built upon a foundation of trust
A leader who is not trusted has a limited ability to create and use influence.
It is important to focus on doing right, rather than being right.
When you don’t just talk the talk but walk the walk, then you build trust. People will rarely make a leap of faith for someone who hasn’t earned their trust.
Influence is built upon making others successful
This principle is also referred to as the law of reciprocity, or service leadership. And back in my corporate days, this was my go-to strategy for influence. I loved to raise people up, help them to become super skilled so they could accelerate their career.
Having a super-skilled team not only helped me out as the leader, but it also raised the trust within my team. As they became more successful, they had more opportunities, it helped build the reputation that I was a leader who creates other leaders.
Influence is effective if you’re likeable
People do business with people they know, like and trust. It’s that simple.
If you want to influence people then you need to be approachable, positive, affable and trustworthy. You have to be a person of character and integrity.
No one wants to work with someone who is standoffish, pessimistic, and untrustworthy.
Influence is routed through helping others maintain commitments
In the leadership world, people often judge you by your ability to keep your word and deliver on your promises.
The key behind influencing via commitment lies in your ability to have people adopt an initial position that is consistent with a behaviour, such that they are willing to agree to requests that are consistent with the prior commitment.
People desire to be perceived as dependable, reliable and successful and will normally go to great lengths not to have their track record or their reputation tarnished.
Gaining strong commitments early on, and then simply holding people to their commitments, ultimately helps them enhance their reputation for delivering on promises made.
One of the key questions Leaders ask me is ‘how can I get my team to be more accountable?’ You can check out my earlier article on team accountability here.
Influence is most often possessed by those with authority
As a leader, you have a huge responsibility to make sure you lead in a way that is congruent with you, with the people around you, and in alignment with the direction of the business.
‘The highest authority is that which is given and rarely that which is taken.’
Authority is most often given to those who display honesty, competency, expertise and wisdom. With authority comes credibility and with credibility comes influence.
Until next time, Eat the Frog, Get the Worm, Be the Bird, and start becoming a more influential leader!
Ally Nitschke is a Leadership Expert, Courageous Conversation Specialist and Speaker. She has been working with leaders and as a Leader for over 15 years. She is on a mission to change the way we communicate at work, to lean into those uncomfortable conversations and lead with courage. Ally delivers Courageous Conversations Programs, Courageous Leadership programs, Coaching, Mentoring and Keynotes. To inquire about her working with you or your organisation please contact us here.