Influence allows you to impact results through your interactions with other people. Although you can’t control the outcome completely, you can increase the probability of achieving the impact you desire by how you network, communicate and find common ground with other people.
A powerful metaphor for influence is sport fishing. How is it that you can use a 50-pound line to land a 250 pound fish?
Be patient. Know where you want to end up, but manage your expectations along the way.
Be aware. Influence and manage the other people on the boat – the other people who can affect the situation.
Control yourself. Check your ego and your need to win.
Be purposeful. Be intense, but don’t make rash choices; consider the impact of your actions.
Know your fish. What are the characteristics of others involved? What choices are they making right now?
Be the fish. Don’t focus on you and your needs; get in the heads of the others involved.
Adjust as you learn. Your desired outcomes and your actions may need to change to create the right results for everyone.
Work within the parameters of the line. What are your limits and abilities? What do others want? What can they contribute?
Reel it in. Don’t ease up just because things seem to be going well. Follow through with 100% of the discipline you had when you started.
Use your influence to reel in the big fish and contribute to the greater good. Remember the words of Jackie Robinson: “A life isn’t significant except for its influence on other lives.”
Pat has a problem that she does not acknowledge. Everyone else can see it, but not Pat. In fact, when asked about this issue, she replies that it is part of the job and not impacting her leadership effectiveness.
Pat’s problem is stress. More and more, extreme levels of stress are accepted as a normal requirement of a leader’s job. Many actually consider this constant mental pressure to be a badge of honor.
This bravado about stress means that leaders often won’t address it as the serious situation it is. A 2007 Center for Creative Leadership Research White Paper titled The Stress of Leadership states:
Eighty-eight percent of leaders told us that work is a primary source of stress in their lives and that having a leadership role increases the level of stress (75 percent agreement). Further, about 65 percent of the sample believes that their stress level is higher than it was five years ago.
Pat may be cavalier about today’s stress. However, if her stress level increases over time, she may experience Catastrophic Leadership Failure, as described by Dr. Henry L. Thompson in his article, Catastrophic Leadership Failure™: An Overview:
Cognitive ability (IQ) and emotional intelligence (EI) abilities are required for successful leader performance—at all levels. Recent findings combined with my experience and research on leadership, stress, IQ and EI over the last 25 years indicate that when a leader’s stress level is sufficiently elevated— whether on the front line of a manufacturing process, in the emergency room, the Boardroom or on the battlefield—his/her ability to fully and effectively use IQ and EI in tandem to make timely and effective decisions is significantly impaired. This impairment often leads to catastrophic results.
Do you need to get real about stress and its effects? Are you skeptical that there is a solution to stress, given the intense demands on leaders?
We will be writing more about stress management in upcoming posts. In the meantime, check out this for some tips to get you started on your journey to a more calm existence.
Want to figure out how to make work more fun and less stressful? Contact us.
How would tomorrow be different if you could see it as a new day? This would not be a regular Thursday that follows Wednesday, but an opportunity to consciously make all things unspoiled by your previous experiences.
For 24 hours, you “make all things new” in your mind. You appreciate people and your surroundings as if you had never encountered them before. Even more powerfully, you would decide to banish all types of assumptions and beliefs – about people and groups and organizations.
It is true that we cannot wander in a state of child-like wonder and “newness” all the time. Taking a day to begin again is a useful exercise with a long-term payoff.
Starting “from scratch” deepens insight and self-awareness. You recognize expectations and assumptions as they bubble to the surface throughout the day, giving you an opportunity to test their validity. You may find that you’ve amassed a collection of biases with little or no solid foundation.
To capture these insights, go “old school” and carry a notepad and jot down what you observe. Or, make notes in your iphone, if you’re so inclined. Make sure you apply what you’ve learned to make your next “regular” day better.
The icing on the cake? A new day allows you to fully experience surprise, joy and awe. Simple pleasures won’t be overlooked as you rush to do the next thing.
What epiphanies might you gain from being more present and aware tomorrow?
Self-confidence is a prerequisite for leadership. But like other laudable qualities, confidence must be kept in balance. Successful leaders believe in themselves and their capabilities. They also are not afraid to be wrong or make mistakes. They are bold, yet have their feet firmly planted in reality.
Heidi Grant Halvorson profiled Alan Greenspan in her blog post called Why Some Leaders Don’t Learn From Their Mistakes. Mr. Greenspan, she says, has yet to take any responsibility for inaction on the part of the Federal Reserve in the months and years before the financial crisis. Halvorson believes that Greenspan falls prey to what psychologists call self-serving bias. This is our protective brain telling us that if something goes wrong, it must be someone else’s fault. Conversely, success must be something we are responsible for creating.
So is it any wonder that organizational leaders become overconfident and forget that they’re fallible? How can you avoid the pitfall of being too sure of yourself?
Recognize limitations. Motivational speakers tout the “fact” that if you believe you can do something, then you can. Actually, the opposite is more universally true. If you don’t have confidence, you won’t succeed. Unfortunately, confidence doesn’t create competence, and sometimes people just can’t achieve something they really want.
Admit insecurities. The root of the self-serving bias is insecurity. If we really are not convinced that we deserve our position or know enough, our minds work overtime to compensate. It can be difficult to admit to insecurities. The consequences of not doing so are even more dire.
Practice curiosity. Leaders get paid to be certain, or at least that’s how it appears. Rather than thinking you have to know or decide something now, suspend judgment. Spend time asking questions and give yourself permission to find new answers. If you seek first to understand, you may find that there’s a world of unexplored possibilities you would have otherwise missed.
Change your mind. Because the new, curious you has ventured into uncharted territory, you may find that you’ve been wrong in the past. Be willing to change your mind about things that used to be certain.
Change your behavior. A confident leader seeks regular feedback and makes disciplined efforts to improve performance on an ongoing basis.
Cultivate genuineness. One behavior to change might be your leadership persona. Some organizational cultures overly-reward charisma and a brash leadership presence. Instead of bravado and fast talk, be authentic in your demeanor. When your bearing is driven by a desire to do your very best – to move the organization and its people forward – there can be no artifice. You must be the real you. Anything else is for the benefit of your own ego.
True confidence is rooted in humility. So don’t beat yourself up when things go wrong, and do take your lumps and learn from them. “Create the kind of self you will be happy to live with all your life” (Golda Meir).
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