Renowned leadership expert and author, John Maxwell, is known for some of the best quotes on leadership influence -- often an ignored rule of good leadership. Among my favorites are:

"A leader who produces other leaders multiplies their influences."

"The higher you want to climb, the more you need leadership. The greater the impact you want to make, the greater your influence needs to be."

"If you can't influence people, then they will not follow you. And if people won't follow, you are not a leader. That's the Law of Influence." 

Those quotes are certainly inspiring. But practically speaking, how exactly do you influence to a high degree to win over employees?

Well, in the best organizations in the world, you'll witness great bosses consistently exhibiting influential behaviors as expressions of who they are, not what they do. Influence comes by character and choice, not through method or a prescribed process or to-do list.

A quick test to gauge your leadership influence

Let's do a little test. Maxwell came up with five questions to determine your leadership influence. Ask yourself:

1. Are you the same person no matter who's with you? This is about consistency.

2. Are you quick to recognize others for their efforts when you succeed? This is about giving others credit.

3. Do you make decisions based on how they benefit you or others? This is about the choices you make between being a selfless or selfish leader.

4. Do you work harder at your image and reputation or your integrity? This is about character.

5. Do you recognize that leadership is above all, a relationship, and that credibility is the cornerstone? And as a credible leader, do you "say what you mean and mean what you say?"

How did you do? To add more application and paint a fuller picture of influence in action, I submit the following daily habits as your road map for influential success.

1. Work on building trust.

The foundation for everything related to your leadership has to be built on trust. In his phenomenal book The Speed Of Trust, Stephen M.R. Covey says that a team with high trust will produce results faster and at lower cost. Conventional thinking says that people have to earn trust first. But, in healthy organizations, influential leaders are willing to give trust to their followers first, and they give it as a gift even before it's earned.

2. Build up your competence.

That thing we call trust is worth a hill of beans if a leader can't demonstrate knowledge and expertise in his or her particular line of work. Competence builds confidence in people. And their confidence in an influential leader with competence will ultimately deliver excellence and results.

3. Give radically honest feedback balanced with care.

Kim Scott, author of the best seller, Radical Candor, says all leaders should aim for the perfect balance of caring personally and challenging directly. When you do both, she says, you're a leader who cares enough to tell an employee if you think he or she is making a mistake. Even more importantly, when they are performing something great. Scott writes, "Be humble, helpful, offer guidance in person and immediately, praise in public, criticize in private, and don't personalize. Make it clear that the problem is not due to some unfixable personality flaw. Share stories when you've been criticized for something similar."

4. Speak to what influences other people.

To influence people and create real change, influential leaders understand to whom they're speaking with and how best to communicate to each person with passion and energy that moves them to action. Reaching people with passionate communication is not being vocal at ten decibels higher than normal. It's bringing energy to inspire people to do something beyond the norm, to do something extraordinary.

Parting thoughts

If you want to know whether you're a person of influence, look no further than the respect and admiration you receive from others when your walk matches your talk.

And while most of us have dealt with trust issues and faced obstacles that could be holding us back, one thing is true for everyone: we all have the ability to turn our failures and shortcomings into fabulous opportunities to grow character, develop trust, and build leadership capacity to influence others. 

Published on: Jul 25, 2018
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