Leading As an Influencer, Instead of an Authoritarian
John Maxwell says that leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. Influence is the power to persuade. To have influence means that you have won people over to your point of view. To influence your followers is to move them to a desired action.
Influence is based on mutual respect. So, we more willingly follow leaders who respect us, which makes it easier for us to respect them.
There are 3 key elements to earning people’s respect and gaining influence.
Influence is earned when we have integrity, we listen to people and we show that we care about them.
So, how do you build this trust yourself? You build trust when you have integrity. A key element of integrity is doing what you say you are going to do. We have to set a good example to build trust. We all expect our employees to do what they say they are going to do. It is much harder to enforce responsibility when you are irresponsible.
Having your own code of ethics that you adhere to and that is clear to your staff is critical. A strong code of ethics includes Being honest. Being fairly transparent. Being consistent. Having a vision and a mission for the company that is clear and has a higher purpose. Integrity is built on solid ground.
You build trust when you listen to people. We all want to be listened to and heard. In fact, I have a whole talk that I do that is focused on how to become a better listener. Stephen Covey says that being heard is like getting psychological air. We all want to breathe better, right? Becoming a better listener will gain you influence as people feel respected when you listen to them intently.
One key aspect of being a good listener is getting your ego and interests out of the way so that you can listen to what they have to say without judgement. Sometimes it’s not so easy to listen to people. It’s not always easy to listen to people who are having a hard time. We don’t necessarily want to take the time to listen to their problems. I’m not saying that you need to spend hours listening to complaints. But knowing the issues that your people are facing will let them know that you truly care about them.
Care About Them
So, after you’ve set a good example, and you have listened to them, now you need to show that you care about them. John Maxwell also says people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. If you think about people you have worked for and people you care about, you’ll notice that you preferred those people who showed that they care about you.
Mary Kay Ash led Mary Kay Inc to become one of the most successful companies in the world. She led using the Golden Rule as her primary leadership guide. The original version of the golden rule is to treat others as you would like to be treated. It’s even more powerful when it’s changed to “Treat others as they would like to be treated”. Different people want different things.
So, to summarize, we gain influence when we have integrity, when we follow through with our promises, and have a code of ethics that our people can depend upon. We gain influence when we take the time listen to people with an open mind and truly hear what they are saying. We gain influence when we actively show that we care by using positive words, spending time with them, doing things that show we have thought about what is important to them.