There’s been a lot of buzz about influence as an essential component of leadership. It’s true that with the exception of tyrants and dictators, leaders make most of their impact through influencing others. Clearly, the ability to get things done indirectly – not just telling people what to do – is a fundamental necessity of leadership.
Influence is powerful and can be an instrument for good or evil. What core competencies are required to have a positive influence on those around you – and thus propel your organization toward its goals?
Authenticity required. People who influence others are genuine and don’t try to be something they are not. We can spot a fake a mile away. Influential people aren’t perfect; they just don’t try to hide their flaws or make excuses for their mistakes.
Focus on the greater good. They’re not totally selfless, but influential people seek positive outcomes for others. They seek solutions that work for all individuals and groups involved, and they do what they can to foster other people’s development.
Act with courage and judgment. Influential people know when to speak up, change direction and push forward. They also know their limits (in skills, experience and influence) and when they can and cannot take risks.
Be humble. Quiet humility trumps ego-driven boastfulness every time. Influential people are confident, and also allow themselves to be vulnerable and less-than-all-knowing. They’re eager to learn from others.
Who influences you?By examining the character and actions of people who have impacted you positively, you’ll gain an understanding of what it takes to influence others. You’ll also realize that some of the most influential people don’t hold positions of formal authority. Even if you aren’t the boss, you may be influencing others.
Core competencies for influential leadership aren’t enough. There are some strategies that you can employ to increase the effectiveness of your influence. Stay tuned for a future post.
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