The job of a true leader is to lead his people towards a certain successful goal. He simply cannot do this if he has no influence over them. Without influence, he cannot make other people do what he wants them to do.
An ordinary child can influence his parents to buy him a new toy. His parents, on the other hand, can influence their child to do his assignments first before playing. Students can influence their teachers to move their exam on the 5th, instead of on the 1st of the month. Your neighbor can influence you to buy a certain brand of bath soap instead of the one you are using. In other words, anybody can influence other people, may it be kids, students, teachers, parents, your neighbor, or your co-workers. Our society is revolving around influences.
So what makes you excused from being influential when you are the boss, the leader, the one everybody looks up to? In fact, you should be more influential than anybody else should because you are leading people into reaching a common goal. They need your influence!
Most people do their jobs because they need to. They perform in exchange of a salary they can use for everyday living. However, if these people were under a leader who has an effective influence over them, they would do their job because they want to…because they are able to learn from doing it…and because they know that it is for the attainment of the team’s goal…without really keeping in mind the pay they would get. People will follow their leader’s instructions gladly and confidently, even without any material incentive, if he is influential.
Leadership is not about having the right to stand in front of your people and order them around, but about being the person they will gladly obey even with a casual instruction coming from behind them.
Bringing Out Mr. Influence in You
As a leader, you should know where your journey ends…because every follower ought to be behind a leader who knows where he is going. Otherwise, it is just a waste of time. If you want to become an influential leader, the following techniques are essential:
1. Assess your people. A leader should know his people very well in order to recognize the level of influence he needs over them. See their potential. Find out their strengths and weaknesses. Develop what they have and equip them with things they lack. Factors to look at include skills and abilities, educational background, knowledge, dreams and desires, and the likes. By being knowledgeable about their personality and experiences, you will clearly understand how to influence each one of them.
2. Move them with your words. A great leader knows how to communicate with his people effectively. Use the same thoughts and words that motivate you to do your best to push them in exerting more effort. Observe even their non-verbal signals that could help you determine moves that are more influential.
3. Have courage. A leader must be courageous. He must be prepared to go where others will not dare. He must make difficult decisions in the face of opposition and ridicule, and he must accept, without question, the responsibility for those decisions. Those who follow look to their leader to make the decisions. They do not want their leader hesitant between options. If he is undecided, they will soon lose faith in him and sense that the whole enterprise is drifting aimlessly. Neither do they wish to be blamed when things go wrong. They want someone to lead them, someone who will take full responsibility for the decisions he makes.
4. Develop peer respect. Peer respect involves character and personality between you and your people. Trammell Crow, one of the world’s most successful real estate brokers, said that he looks for people whose associates want them to succeed. He said, “It’s tough enough to succeed when everybody wants you to succeed. People who don’t want you to succeed are like weights in your running shoes.” On the other hand, Maxey Jarmen used to say, “It isn’t important that people like you. It’s important that they respect you. They may like you but not follow you. If they respect you, they’ll follow you, even if perhaps they don’t like you.”
5. Empower. An effective leader sets clear objectives for his team members, but leaves detailed implementation of these objectives to the discretion and judgment of individual members of the team. As Second World War U.S. General George S. Patton puts it, “Don’t tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”
6. Show enthusiasm and confidence in them. People want to be motivated. Motivation begins with positive energy and commitment. Your personal ills and corporate pressures are unimportant to your employees. They are concerned about themselves. In good and bad times, you must always express a positive and energetic attitude.
7. React and respond. As you see your people working for you, supply them occasionally with constructive feedbacks on how they are doing. They need to be guided, coached, and taught regularly in order to stay efficient. Talk to them personally one by one. Avoid embarrassing any of them (e.g. telling in front of the team what one member did wrong).