“Without the capacity to influence others, your ability to make what you envision a reality remains elusive because, after all, no one can do it alone” - George Hallenbeck
Your ability to influence others is a crucial skill, without it your leadership is impotent. So how do you enhance it? What influence impact did you have on others yesterday? What influence impact will you have today and in the weeks and months ahead?
I have worked on this leadership attribute with coaching clients, and with teams for many years, focus and development here is not a once only event. This Simple Note is a precursor to an article that explores influence more broadly and deeply. Ahead of that, this note seeks to inspire you to consider your influence impact and, through observing it at work, harness it to enhance your positive outcomes now.
To influence is “the capacity or power of persons to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behaviour, attitude and opinions of others” (Dictionary definition). Not to be confused as just a way of wielding authority or exerting the seniority of a leadership post; influencing others is a tool all of us need, regardless of our role, and should not be seen as a given in a leadership or management post.
To become a truly effective leader, your journey is in mastering the ability to influence others through communication, self-awareness and authenticity. I discuss this in The Impact Book following the Attraction – Appetite – Advocacy – Action pathway.
We are living in peculiar times when it comes to leadership. The examples around us on the national stage are often found wanting in their ability to connect with others and to be in tune with the world they seek to lead. A sense of frustration pervades our traditional leadership forums – global politics and nation states for example, where all too often leaders lack the ability and sense of authenticity to take others with them. We are in cynical and changing times where many are searching for global direction, for leadership!
So what can you take from this as learning for your role?
Well, effective leaders don’t just command or set and enforce an agenda – they adapt their impact as situations demand, to empathise; inspire; persuade; challenge and encourage others. They connect with hearts and minds and energy of those around them and draw out a commitment to achieve results. Motivation requires a motive, theirs, not yours.
I observe that impactful and influential leaders, perhaps most importantly, keep their agendas open and transparent, not hidden and loaded with self-interest. Through the illustration of their big-picture vision, through developing buy-in to their outcomes and ultimately igniting a commitment from those they lead.
In sport there are great examples in the culture created at Barcelona FC under the direction of Pep Guardiola, now a world renowned football coach, back then just starting out in his management career. Or within the New Zealand All Blacks rugby union team. More on these models can be found through the exceptional books written by Damian Hughes and James Kerr. However on a smaller scale and regardless of your role in an organisation, it comes down to your individual inter-personal skills; your ability to connect with others and inspire them through the quality of your ideas; the consistency of your attitude range and your ability to make things happen.
Take a moment to consider those that have inspired you through your life. Not just the big names that you’ve never met but also those who through actual relationships with you have had a positive effect on how you think, feel and act. What did they have in common? What did they do and how? Make a short list of your 3 biggest influencers and the effect each has had on you and explore the thread or common themes.
Now revisit the question at the beginning of this Simple Note – what influence impact did you have on others yesterday, what influence impact will you have today and in the weeks and months ahead? Does this align with those common themes?
Ultimately, all leadership is about influence. For me, it’s the single most important factor in your impact.
Good luck and let me know how you get on. Also look out for my longer article exploring these themes in more depth – I will blog on it soon.
Keep it simple and go and have impact!