Leadership is about influencing others. Managers can order people to do things, but what does that accomplish. You have won compliance but you failed to get their heart. You have to have influence.
Everyone influences other people just as other people influence us. Some influences are positive while others are negative. It is a leader’s job to influence positive change and development upon others.
I’ve held a several positions in my life. Some were entry level laborers, one was a Fire Marshal, most have been authority based positions. I started out with a drill Sergeant attitude of do this as I say. I often got compliance, but boy was it an uphill battle. It did not take long before I realized that “it’s easier to get more flies with honey than vinegar” was a wise piece of advice.
Once I made the decision to leverage influence and build me relational skills with people, my life became easier. Getting fire code violators to comply with orders was actually more difficult than relating with people and helping them understand the why behind the codes and requests for compliance. Formal training in what I call “Verbal Judo” can really help deescalate situations. People just want to be treated like people.
Double Your Influence
Sure, you can continue life with the demands of authority. Sure, sometimes you have to go to that, but imagine a life where you can get people to do what you want because they want to be a part of the solution. This is the type of compliance that delivers their heart and effort. Talk about a productivity boost.
I once had a boss that made me a miserable person. I let her get to me in every way. As my boss, she obviously had control over what I did and I was at her mercy, but when told to do something, I completed the task to the minimum satisfactory level. Part of this was being young and immature, but another sliver was the fact that I wanted to be treated like a human.
Fast forward a few years and I was fortunate to work for a great leader. This leader was one that was committed to growing and developing his employees from the day he started. He constantly delegated tasks to see abilities and desires then delegated authority to carry out tasks over time. This leader was so committed to his team, that he often didn’t even have to ask for something to be done, team members simply saw something that needed to be done and did it with their heart and full effort.
Now, which leader would you want in your organization? I’m not talking about where you work, but if you owned the organization and your money was on the line, would you want a “leader” who caused disengagement, stagnant growth, and minimum compliance or the leader who was developing the next generation of leaders, engaging them to be invested in the company, and creating a level of productivity and efficiency that can only lead to higher returns for you?
If you are like me, you want great leaders running teams, departments, and divisions of your organizations. Sometimes that even means that we have to get out of the way. Bill Ford, former President and CEO of Ford Motor Company stepped down from his family’s company to find the best person for the job. When he recruited Boeing executive Alan Mulally, I was a little perplexed at what a non-auto exec could do. What I learned, a great leader can build a great team and produce tremendous results without insider knowledge.
In Start With Why, Simon Sinek talks about the importance of focusing first on why, then what. As Sinek explains, so many companies focus on what they do, not why they do it. The why is what drives us, it controls our psyche, our emotions. People love being a part of a why that resonates within them. That’s the reason that some people become police officers or firefighters and others go to work for environmental groups. The why behind what they do stands taller than anything else.
As a leader, if your “Why” is clearly evident in how you operate and you paint the vision, your influence begins to grow. Again, people want to be part of a why that they believe in, so when you show them the why, it can increase your credibility with them and your influence. Imagine an Apple Computer without Steve Jobs, he focused on the why they built computers, not that they built computers.
To be the influential leader, try…
How will you be influential this week?