Become a Person of Influence

Last week I taught a group of Entrepreneurs for Growth Points -Entreprenuership Program and it was so much fun seeing light bulbs go off.

Being a partner with Dr. John C. Maxwell. It’s such a privilege to teach about leadership. I talk a lot about leadership and the need for leadership in every part of our lives. I cannot discuss leadership (in any capacity) without referring to influence. You see, Leadership is influence, Nothing More, Nothing Less (John Maxwell)……………There can be no leadership without influence, because that is how a leader leads……………….. through their influence on others.

The more we lead, the more influence we must have on people. Our ability to lead people is directly proportional to our ability to influence them. The more we lead, the more we influence. I thought I would share some insights on what influence is and isn’t and what it takes to become a person of influence.


Many “so-called” leaders misinterpret what influence is. This creates confusion. Let me share what influence is not.

Influence is not:

Force – a leader cannot force a person to do something. Well, you can try initially, you know. But it doesn’t take you far. If you have influence, people will do what is needed even if you are not around.

Intimidation – “My way or the highway”. Many leaders choose this stance and it’s a bullying tactic, fear fear-based strategy. Intimidation (through position) can produce some results but nothing sustainable or enjoyable was achieved through fear.

Manipulation – “There is a winner and a looser”. “You scratch my back, I scratch yours”. Manipulation only creates unrealistic expectations and promises. Once you can’t meet those, your employees are done with you.

Position – “Follow because we have to”. Your position can generate the desired outcome just simply because of your position. However, it is not lasting. People need to follow because they want to.

Exchange – we both win something.

Persuasion – we follow because we want to. We persuade ourselves to follow.

Respect – We follow because of the request and respect we have for the influencer.

So, what does it take to become a person of influence?

A person of influence;

As Coaches, we influence every day. Think about it. Every time we talk, train, coach or show, we have an opportunity to influence. It is important to become a person of influence. In John Maxwell’s book, “How to Become a Person of Influence”, he uses the acronym I.N.F.L.U.E.N.C.E.R. to outline what it takes to become a person of influence.

Integrity – Enron was an energy company based in Houston, TX. It employed over 22,000 employees and was named the most innovative company for six consecutive years by Fortune Magazine. However, in 24 days in 2001, this $1000 Billion company with was bankrupt. What happened? The lack of integrity in the leadership of Enron caused one of the greatest corporations in the US to fall apart. The accounting practices in Enron had enabled it to misrepresent its revenues and hide its losses in subsidiary organizations. As you might expect, this soon became public. As a result there was a massive layoff. The worst part about it, was employees didn’t only loose their jobs, they lost their retirement.

Seven years later (2008), the same greed and lack of integrity caused many giant investment banks to fall apart, sending ripples throughout the financial world. The investment bankers never learned (or really cared) what happened with Enron.

The problem was and is integrity. If you have integrity, you will be successful I believe a person of integrity will be successful. I heard integrity explained this way……..“Integrity is what we do, what we say, and what we say we do”.

Nurtures – To nurture someone is to motivate and encourage. A person who nurtures another, will provide leadership in many aspects of their personal and professional life. They will nurture them in the good and bad times.

Faith – Have faith that others will do the right thing.

Listens – Listen to people. When people feel their being listened to and heard, they feel their thoughts, actions and suggestions are being followed up on. Listen to what is NOT being said. Many times, employees are not willing to come out and say what they feel, but rather give clues to what they feel and believe.

Understands- Harry Truman said, “When we understand the other fellow’s viewpoint, what he is trying to do, nine times out of 10 he is trying to do right.” Understanding what drives our workforce, the people we lead, ensures we create an atmosphere where their thoughts, actions and desires are integrated into our vision and plans. Only when we have experienced what our team is experiencing will we ever be able to lead them.

Enlarges – Mentor those you lead. Freely share your thoughts, ideas and experiences with your staff. Give them assignments that stretch their capabilities and gives them recognition. Give credit where credit is due. Place your staff and employees in a position to succeed and you can influence your way to leadership. Realize you can’t enlarge everyone. Identify those who have the skill and desire to be mentored.

Navigates – Provide direction. Have a clear understanding of where you, the department and company are going and clearly and concisely communicate that. Where are you going, how are you going to get there, have you thought about the course, be willing to make course corrections. Stay with your people through thick and thin. They must know you have their back.

Connects – A person of influence connects with people. Don’t take people for granted, Possess a “make a difference mindset”, stay in touch with your people, look for common ground, respect differences in personalities, find out what makes them “tick”, be sincere in your communications, share common experiences and once connected, stay connected.

Empowers – Set them up for success. Make sure they know you trust their decisions and actions. Remember you can’t empower everyone. Make sure you are in the right position, have a working relationship, have the respect of the person you are empowering and are committed to the process, through the good and bad times. When you empower people, you’re not influencing just them, you’re influencing all the people they influence

Reproduces – Raise up leaders who reproduce leaders. Influencers reproduce other influencers. Develop your own leadership potential, Find people with leadership potential, teach the person to be a leader, not just perform tasks and then MULTIPLY!!!

I think it was John Hancock who said, “The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and to influence their actions.” Influence is created by building relationships that create trust. Influence can only begin when there is trust in the relationship.

Our ability to influence is directly proportional to the value we add to those within our leadership realm. If you want to lead, you must influence because, without followers, you cannot be a leader.

I hope you got a quick overview of leadership and what is the journey ahead….

Your Coach


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