The topics of influence and leadership have become increasingly important to me over the past few years as I have moved my way up the career ladder, attended classes, conferences, and training events on the subjects, encountered various forms of leadership in my own life, and worked with others who have shared their personal experiences of leadership with me. I would say that even more recently, these topics of have become personal passions of mine and are ones that I feel called to speak on and provide encouragement about on a regular basis, thus the reason behind this post today.
To be frank, this post has been on my heart for some time, but it’s not necessarily an easy one to write. There are all matter of books, expert advice, and insight on these topics. The market for these materials is always in-demand as our culture is one of doing more, accomplishing bigger and better, and having power and control over every area of our lives (and the lives of others, in some cases).
For the record, I am NOT an expert on these topics. I don’t know it all. And I still have so much to learn. But I do have experience, knowledge, and insight that I think is worth sharing. I think that this generation is tired of the status quo and it’s time for a change (I’ll daresay a revolution) in how we view leadership and influence and what it means to embody and embrace these in our personal and professional lives.
So here we go … Influence and Leadership 101 (listed in no particular order) by yours truly …
- ANYONE can be a leader and EVERYONE has influence. You don’t have to have a fancy title to be considered a “leader” and you don’t have to be in a workplace to have influence. You can be a leader anywhere and you have influence right where you are. Period.
- Leaders tell the truth. Even when it’s hard and feels vulnerable and maybe a little risky, real leaders tell the truth. If they don’t know something, they’re honest about it, and will work to get the answer. Leaders follow through with what they say they’re going to do. Leaders are honest and their model of this influences and inspires honesty in others.
- Leaders deliver encouragement when also providing constructive criticism. The key word here is “constructive.” Leaders provide honest feedback about areas needing improvement, letting the person know they believe in them for the changes that need to be made, and also encourage a person about what they’re doing well in to bolster confidence and show they’re rooting for them.
- Leaders are not made in times of ease, but in times of challenge. Leaders play an active role in helping the team to be successful in overcoming whatever obstacle is in the way of the goal. Leaders are willing to get their hands dirty. Real leaders are confident, encouraging, positive, and persevering in the face of difficulty.
- Leaders bring out the best in those they encounter. They smile, greet people, hold a door open for someone, offer a kind word, call people by their names, ask how a person is doing and genuinely care about the people they are asking, and keep the door open for conversations, questions, brainstorming, and dreaming. Real leaders inspire the same behaviors in others and influence people for the simple and good things this world needs.
- Leaders are the same people, within and outside of their “leadership” roles. Real leaders exhibit character, consistency, and integrity from place-to-place and sphere-to-sphere. Environment may change, people in the circle may come and go, but that person remains the same person to their core regardless of those factors.
- Leaders recognize the strengths of those in their circle and work to build upon them and allow these people to shine. Real leaders empower people to do what they’re good at and celebrate with that person when those actions lead to accomplishment and that person receiving the spotlight.
- Leaders take time to be introspective. They recognize their strengths and seek to build upon them. They also recognize their weaknesses and seek to strengthen those areas as well. Leaders reflect and are willing to improve and grow where needed, and leaders learn from their mistakes – the first step being that they acknowledge that they are not above making mistakes.
- Leaders are humble. They are not proud or arrogant. They treat people as they would like to be treated and they accept people for who they are and where they come from. Leaders do not see themselves as “above” another.
- The tiniest bit of influence now (good or bad) can have major implications for the future. Because ALL of us have influence, no matter what we are doing or where we are, we must be intentional in using our influence for good. Real leaders do this and the seeds they plant today grow amazing leaders tomorrow.
I think a lot of this is just common sense, but sometimes it’s the simplest of things we lose sight of the quickest. I believe that many leaders have gotten too caught up in the “hype” of a title and have often misused their power in such a way that hurts others and leaves a bad taste in the mouth of those they lead. None of us are perfect – that goes without saying – but our heart and true motivations show. People know if we’re a real leader or not, and I think the gauge for our leadership and influence lies within the ten items I’ve listed above.
So friend, let’s commit to being great leaders – the best leaders we can be – where God has called us to shepherd others. And let’s use our God-given influence for the betterment of this world and the people in it. Let’s be difference makers and change agents who set a new standard of excellence in leadership by our compassion, love, honesty, and bravery to do the right thing, even when it’s the hardest thing to do.
:: image ::