Check your influence
We live in a world where the term influencer is widely recognized on social media. Whether you are an influencer yourself or follow one, two, or several, we all know that influencers on social media need several things to be successful, a platform, niche, and defined audience. These are the first intentional steps to be successful, but what comes next is building the reputation and credibility by being authentic, creating content that appeals to their audience, and branding themselves as experts; they are trusted. Influencers do these things consistently to influence the behaviors of their followers.
This should also be true in leadership because influence is key to successful leadership. Those who are skilled in influencing others can affect the emotions that drive the behavior of others in a particular direction. Leaders must remember that their title and authority alone will not make them successful. As Ken Blanchard, author and consultant, suggested, “the key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” Leadership is not about control; it is about influence.
Control is an ineffective way to lead because it usually brings about resistance and negative results. On the other hand, leading with influence brings about positive change.
In an organization where control dominates:
- Employees are micromanaged rather than led
- Burnout is evident
- Employees follow the leader’s vision out of fear, intimidation, and necessity
- Transparency is not valued
- The focus is on processes and procedures
- The leader always imposes their agenda and require compliance
In an organization where influence dominates:
- A culture of clear expectations and accountability is cultivated
- Employees are invited to discover their potential
- Creativity and collaboration are encouraged
- Goals are met without manipulation
- Transparency is valued
- Employees feel empowered
- The focus is on relationships
In a nutshell, when control is released and influence dominates, a deliberate culture of changed behaviors is cultivated, ultimately stimulating growth.
The saying “perception is reality” is true because your influence comes from how others perceive you. As a leader, your influence is a part of you; your presence, attitude, words, nonverbal cues, and how you make someone feel when you show up. This perception gives you the ability to drive behaviors and move people to act. If people perceive you positively, they will most likely act on your request. This influence builds credibility and maintains authenticity; you are trusted.
So, how can you strengthen your influence?
- Lead by Example. When you lead by example, you actively demonstrate the behaviors that are valuable and appropriate for organizational outcomes.
- Be Transparent. When you are transparent, you nurture a culture of open and honest communication, clear expectations, and accountability.
- Be Consistent. When you are consistent with your temperament, messaging, style, and management techniques, you promote stability in the workplace.
- Actively Listen. When you actively listen, you seek information others may have missed. You seek to understand different points of view, defer judgment, and respond appropriately.
When you practice what you preach, others will follow. Strengthening your influence requires deliberately taking steps to change behaviors. Once your behaviors change and others’ perceptions of you change, you can influence those around you.
A good friend and mentor, Toni L. Beamon, MBA, recently reposted her status on social media that talked about the power of leadership and its influence on others. The best part of the post was her question: What and where are you leading people to? Just as social media influencers are intentional about their influence, so should those in leadership positions. The ability to influence is a necessary leadership skill, but how many of us have checked our influence lately?