#7 Influence and Leadership
noun: influence plural noun: influences
the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.
I would argue that some of the most powerful influencers are not intentionally influencing. Their natural characteristics of integrity and passion shape the experiences of others. Leadership and influence have more to do with inspiring the thought and actions of others through one’s presence and example rather than through authority or hierarchical dominance.
We have all seen “influencers” in social media who use their notoriety to impact others’ behavior. Many times they are incentivized to sell products or promote ideas. This is not what we are talking about. People who are authentic influencers are selflessly driven to serve others. They derive excitement and energy from developing and watching individuals become the best versions of themselves.
John Maxwell wrote a great book: Becoming a Person of Influence, his chapters are titled; A Person of Influence Has... Integrity, Nurtures others, Faith in others, Listens to people, Understands people, Enlarges people, Navigates for others, Connects people, Empowers people, and Reproduces other influencers. Maxwell highlights the shift to intrinsic motivation to serve and elelvate others and inadvertantly they will feel appreciated and develop loyalty and trust. This is where influence is born.
How do people become influential? It may help to have notoriety, education, or money, but I would argue none of these are prerequisites. We are influenced by people we trust and have shown integrity, humility, and consistency in action and word. Influencers are often quiet and deliberate. They genuinely care about others and consciously or unconsciously raise the bar regarding how we perceive ourselves. They lead with confidence and evoke feelings of hope and success.
Influencing is not dictating and pushing your agenda. People chose to follow out of inspiration and intrinsic motivation to act or think differently. Your level of excitement, passion, and concern is what others perceive and motivates them to a higher level of performance. Influence originates from the determination to elevate others further than they themselves imagined.
You might wonder if the most influential people share common characteristics. The answer is yes. Here is a great article outlining their commonalities.
This writing touches upon the positive aspects of leadership, but it is worth noting that, as leaders, we also can create a negative impact. Leadership holds responsibility. Very quickly, you can alter thoughts and actions with lasting effects. Use influence as an opportunity to promote positive change with intentionality.