Leadership Matters contains 31 daily insights to inspire extraordinary results.

day 15: Influence

A traditional definition of leadership often includes “getting people to follow your vision.” However, in today’s mega-matrixed world, leaders often do not have direct authority over those they need to help realize their vision. The truly inspiring leader often leads through influence – a more subtle yet powerful approach to getting things done.

One of the most important aspects of influencing others is spreading and soliciting new ideas. That’s right, influence is a two-way street. The influential leader is a conduit of ideas – some ideas are from the leader and some ideas are from the team. Some are well-baked concepts and validated theories while others are raw musings and trial balloons. Sometimes it’s about listening while other times it’s about speaking. Your focus might be on brainstorming today and on refining tomorrow.

This is woven into lots of informal interactions vs. formal meetings. Some interactions might be more in-depth, but most of them are simply about connecting with people for no immediate business reason. Most discussions take about 10 minutes and can be stimulated by questions/ comments like:

  • What do you think about this idea I have?
  • How would you deal with X challenge or initiative?
  • What’s the first thing you would do if you had my job?
  • What’s on your dream list of things to work on?
  • I would like you to participate in X meeting (one they would not normally participate in) and share your thoughts.
  • I would like you to share my idea with your teammates, see what they think, then give me completely unfiltered feedback.

Rather than schedule these interactions (it can feel too formal and potentially stifling), budget five to 10 minutes before a meeting each day to zigzag your way to the meeting (or even to the restroom or lunch). Pop in on team members and strike up a conversation using some of the suggestions or your own version of them.

You can even add in a lunch once in a while with someone you would not typically have lunch with, a team member a couple of levels below you or in another department. Slow and steady as you watch your influence grow. Today, the world of work is no longer a simple cause (manager commands) and effect (employee reacts), so inspiring leaders use influence to inspire extraordinary results.

Action Questions:

1. Who is one person I need to establish more influence with?

2. What would I like to ask them or discuss with him?

3. When will I have this discussion?

“The secret of my influence has always been that it remained secret.”
– Salvador Dali