Hi all! My name is Sheena Horton, President-Elect and Board Member for the Southeast Evaluation Association (SEA). As I have been learning more about the traits of great leaders and how leaders mobilize others, I have found one element that is frequently mentioned: a leader’s influence.
Influence may seem like an obvious determinant of a leader’s success; you’re not a leader if no one will follow you. Think about a colleague for whom you would work hard for or without hesitation, and then think about a colleague for whom you would not. Why do you want to help the first colleague, but avoid the second? What makes some leaders more effective than others? How do leaders influence others?
- Ask. Show interest in your colleagues. Ask about their day, goals, and challenges. Build rapport and be people-focused instead of task-focused. Understanding their needs will help you convey to them the benefits of listening to you.
- Listen. Effective leaders take the time to listen. There is a difference between leading and simply managing. Managers command action while leaders inspire it. Leading is to be focused on others – not yourself.
- Visualize the other side. Try to understand the other person’s perspective and motivations. By doing so, you will be in a better position to address their concerns, tap into their motivations, and utilize their strengths and interests to build a more effective and mutually beneficial working relationship.
- Be proactive. Identify, monitor, and manage risks to your team’s success. Ask your team what they need to complete their tasks, and make sure they have what they need to get things done. Address issues quickly and directly.
- Build credibility through your actions. Consistency is key; unpredictability weakens your ability to influence and lead. Build trust and credibility by following through on what you say. Be the person that others seek out for solutions. Provide reasons for the actions you want taken.
- Show appreciation. A simple “thank you” or “good job” can go a long way. Express your interest and investment in your team’s growth and success by providing constructive feedback. This feedback provides valuable insight, builds trust, and is an opportunity to motivate. Be supportive by mentoring or providing training or assistance.
Remember: Leadership is not about you. It’s about them. Leadership is about influencing others so they will want to help you.
- The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell (Click here for a summary of key points)
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
- “Science of Persuasion” by influenceatwork YouTube channel
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