So You Want to Become a More Influential Leader?
Eisenhower certainly understood the concepts of being a more influential leader, didn’t he?
Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want to be done because he wants to do it.
- Dwight Eisenhower
Spot on. I have been in the military and business world for forty years, and I often get asked what it takes to be a more influential leader. Being an influential leader is a lifelong learning process. You are never done learning. Every great leader always looks for ways to improve their ability to influence.
Leadership can be especially challenging for entrepreneurs. Balancing the need to run a business (i.e., products, investors, customers, etc.) and the need to lead company personnel is quite a task.
Effective leader influence as an entrepreneur means that you can “make things happen,” instead of just “letting things happen.” Leader influence is required in many activities. It is involved in a variety of situations and problems, from the very simple to the very complex.
Leaders must influence others to achieve goals, and they must gain the respect of followers to influence them. This is no easy task, but if you want to have the respect of your followers, you must become an influential and trusted leader.
Related: Looking for Battle Tested, Effective Leadership Qualities?
Leaders use influence and collaborative skills to solve problems by selecting one course of action from several possible alternatives. Almost any decision involves some conflicts or dissatisfaction. The difficult part is to pick one solution where the positive outcome can outweigh possible losses.
To many, avoiding decisions often seems to be the easiest approach. Influencing decisions and accepting the consequences are the only way to stay in control of your time, your success, and your business.
Here are ten laws of leader influence Digital Spark Marketing uses with clients to improve their ability to get to the best solution alternatives:
Get into action
It is critical that you learn the importance of the start, whatever you have been postponing. Just do it, as Nike likes to tell its customers and potential customers. If you wait for the perfect time to start, it will never happen, and you will have accomplished nothing.
Great leaders don’t work in existing systems. They change the systems to give them what they want. And they don’t delay the start.
They come up with new options for jobs, projects, and professional development that their bosses hadn’t even thought of. They see an opportunity coming their way before most of the rest of us have even looked up from our laptops. They don’t hesitate to seize the initiative or get into action, do they?
Learn from others
Observing and learning from those around you makes you stronger, better. Never fail to see its value. Your peers, as well as competitors, can usually teach you more than your friends. Let them. Learn from them. To be a great leader, you need to have a strong will and an even stronger stomach.
At the end of the day, you need to remind yourself that your job isn’t to make everyone happy, but rather to improve the organization as a whole.
Good leaders are constantly trying to improve and surround themselves with the ablest people they can find. They look squarely at their mistakes and deficiencies, and they ask frankly what skills they and the company will need in the future.
And because of this, they can move forward with confidence that’s grounded in the facts, not built on fantasies about their talent.
Find and employ styles in your ‘comfort’ zone
One of the most important things you can do as a leader is cultivating self-awareness. Knowing your leadership styles will help you to be more intentional about using them well and managing their shortcomings. Do you lead with expertise? Charisma? Caring? Armed with this awareness, you can leverage your unique styles to become more influential and inspire others.
More influential leader … demonstrate integrity
Nothing can ruin your influence and respect faster than a lack of integrity. Integrity, however, is not just avoiding unethical choices and situations. Integrity is intentionally molding a culture of values and service.
Persistence is key. Always keep up the effort as you will never know how close to success you may be.
Think about your energy. It’s not just about what you like best, but about what feeds you and what depletes you. And who. Do what you can to increase the good stuff and decrease the bad. You just need to realize you have the power to accomplish it. Much more than you may have imagined.
Eliminate whatever it is in your life that’s draining you, and replace it with something that inspires you. This will help your persistence.
Invest in yourself
Leaders invest in continuous learning. Grow your expertise. The more you know, the more you can help. The greater your competence, the more others will respect you and the effort you made to learn about what they do.
Always work hard at being a little better than you were the day before. Continuous learning is one of the most important attributes in the work and personal environment.
Great leaders know that every step they take, every decision they make, matters in the end. They know they must strategize carefully, and then act decisively. They know they must think ahead — not just to their next step — but to the many steps after it.
Don’t fear failure
No matter how confident someone may seem, everyone is afraid of failing. All of us are afraid of screwing up or afraid of looking stupid.
But great leaders know that everyone they interact with is also afraid.
These people are successful because they act in the face of fear. They go after what they believe, seek change and, ultimately, make a difference.
They also believe they can take a risk because even if they fail, they’ll be able to learn from it and overcome it.
Their fear doesn’t hold them back. Instead, it springs them into action, because they know not stretching themselves is worse than failing.
Coach and advocate
Help people be successful. Focus on developing leadership skills in your team. Be a resource, a sounding board, a safe place to talk. If you want the people you lead to respect you, they need to know you are on their side. Advocate for them; help them get the promotion they’ve been hoping for. Leverage your influence on their behalf.
Wear your passion
Always wear your passion in what you are doing. To do that, you must find those things that you love. Follow the passion; it is what gives you the strength to overcome the obstacles to everyday tasks. Passion is power … it is what keeps you going when everyone else gets tired and gives up.
Concentrate on the future
A leader’s job is to interact with the future on behalf of constituents. Spend time doing things that only you can do, delegating other important areas to competent team members. Establish a vision, and keep your gaze focused on the overall goal. Resist the temptation to spend a too much time-solving day to day problems if they cost you progress toward your vision.
Practice these leadership behaviors often and think ahead for your greatest leadership advantages.
So what’s the conclusion? The conclusion is there is no conclusion. There is only the next step. And that next step is completely up to you.
It’s up to you to keep improving your ability to lead. Lessons are all around you. In many situations, history may be providing the ideas and or inspiration. But the key is in knowing that it is within you already.
It’s up to you to keep improving your leadership learning and experience from all around in your environment.
All you get is what you bring to the fight. And that fight gets better every day you learn and apply new lessons.
When things go wrong, what’s most important is your next step.
Test. Learn. Improve. Repeat.
Are you devoting enough energy continually improving your continuous learning?
Do you have a lesson about making your leadership better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?
Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change. We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.
More reading on continuous learning from Digital Spark Marketing’s Library:
Increase Influence through Good Leadership Qualities
Looking for Battle Tested, Effective Leadership Qualities?
The 10 Must-Have Leadership Competencies of the Modern Businessman