Leadership is about influence – influence over those around you and influence over the outcomes you want to achieve. Building influence is an essential component of successful leadership, so it’s important for anyone who wants to become a high-performing leader to understand how influence works.
I’ve identified five key elements of influence: authenticity, respect, engagement, safety and belonging. We’ll explore how these factors can help you build influence as a leader and develop yourself into an effective leader.
Last week at a conference, a guy mentioned that he didn’t know why the company was there since he’s not a leader in the company. He sits in a design-desk role, so he is the one architecting the solutions for the customers. However, it was obvious that he wanted to be a leader.
I told him to practice Extreme Ownership by taking ownership of his work and influence the people around him. Taking ownership allows you to influence those around you, whether they are colleagues or customers, or even superiors. I recommended the book Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. I told him that he will become a leader and move up quickly. By being empathetic, responsible, and accountable, an organization.
Our own self-defined upper limit is often what keeps us from becoming the leaders that we can. We get comfortable and decide not to push the limits and let someone else lead. We “choose our battles” …as someone who has led in a toxic environment before, with toxic superiors, I’ve learned that picking my battles was important for survival in the organization. However, even in a toxic culture, I was basically second-in-command due to my ability to execute. What does it mean to execute? It means that I was able to muster the resources and energy to accomplish my objectives, delegating wherever necessary. Oftentimes when you have a track record of successful execution, superiors will put all of the big work on you, making you a constraint, and causing you to feel at execution, inevitably.
Authenticity is one of the most important elements of influence – it’s about being genuine in all your interactions with others. People can sense when someone isn’t being authentic, and it can damage their influence. To be an effective leader, you need to be genuine in your interactions with others and ensure that your influence comes from a place of trustworthiness.
Respect is also key for influence – it’s about respecting the opinions and ideas of others, even if they don’t agree with you. A leader who respects the people they’re leading will be a much more effective influence, as people are more likely to follow someone they have faith and trust in.
Engagement is essential for influence – it’s about inspiring and motivating others to take action and achieve common goals. An influential leader is one who can engage others and make them feel part of something that’s bigger than themselves.
Safety is also fundamental to influence – it’s about creating an environment where people feel safe in their decisions and actions, without fear of retribution or criticism. People are much more likely to follow a leader who makes them feel safe and secure.
And finally, influence requires a sense of belonging – it’s about creating an atmosphere where people feel part of something bigger and that their individual contributions are valued. An influence leader is one who can foster a sense of belonging among their followers.
These five factors – authenticity, respect, engagement, safety and belonging – can help influence the people around you and create successful outcomes as a leader. They also will help you develop yourself into an effective leader who commands influence and respect from others. So if you want to become someone who leads with influence, make sure these five elements are part of your repertoire!