Do You Really Want to Be an Influential Leader?
A lot of us have heard about influential leadership, but there is so much information that sometimes it seems like such a foreign concept. What is' influence' and how can that help me as a manager? If I have 'manager' as my title, isn't that influential enough? Many of our clients have this notion that just a title should give them the authority to influence others, make their teams work effectively and together to solve the issues of the organisation. However, there is an ongoing frustration because IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO BE A MANAGER TO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN!
Session after session, we hear some of the same problems. Employees not being engaged, the 'lack of common sense' when doing a task, the typical 'they don't understand the bigger picture' or ' I have to supervise everything because they don't understand' and 'they are not self-starters'. These are just a few of the complains we hear from our clients.
A great way to improve these problems, and to some degree, avoid them is by changing the perception of what a manager should be and turn it into influential leadership. When you are an 'influential leader', you inspire new standards for people to live differently, and in turn, it means they will work 'without supervision'. When you are an influential leader, people route for you to succeed, and this means for your team to take initiatives, find solutions to problems and do the best they can!
However, as someone that has managed and dealt with people of different positions and background, I sometimes find overwhelming the amount of information out there. It seems that you need to be (not have) all these skills to be a great manager and how if you don't keep up then your whole career will get ruined and on top of everything else, there is no time to get those skills. It's a vicious cycle.
If you are a manager, we have put together this article for you to rethink your role and help you improve your team interactions, highlighting the three key traits a leader should have using your current skills. Thats right, I won’t overwhelm you with new information, just make you rethink and reuse your current skills. I want to make sure you know there is no archetype, but there a few characteristics shared amongst the most influential leaders (If you want more, here is an article that mentions 10)
I am keeping it simple and giving you action steps to rethink what you are doing without having to overload yourself with data, leave the data to us ;)
The most important thing as a leader is to be your most authentic self. That one seems easy enough, but the idea is that we tend to change how we do things and who we are because of roles or people. As humans, we can spot very quickly when someone is not authentic, and the problem is that we feel deceived and stop trusting the person. As a leader, you need to manage perceptions, which means that depending on the situation, you can optimize the traits of your personality. It ties with your emotional intelligence and how good you are at assessing conditions and regulating your response without losing yourself.
You need to think of two things to be considered authentic 1) Be congruent and practice what you preach 2)Find common ground with your team as they will be the ones that follow you.
2) Effective and Passionate Communications:
Being passionate is a great thing. It's contagious and makes people want to follow, but you need to communicate it in a way that inspires and doesn't overwhelm. We need to be able to explain our vision clearly, and for this, we need to tap into our listening skills, empathy, how we use our non-verbal, public speaking skills and how we convey messages. If everything fails, remember to use your hands to explain, there is some excellent research about the power of hand gestures out there.
We follow leaders that have certainty. That doesn't mean that you, as a leader, know how to do everything. Accepting one's weaknesses is a great trait to follow. You don't have to be confident about the skills you need to get somewhere, but you do have to be sure that you know what that looks like, that vision. How to get there, that is the work of your team and how you put them together. You have to be able to get everyone on board to get to that 'place' which is one of the reasons why storytelling is so important. (If unsure, watch Tyrion Lannister’s speech in the Game of Thrones finale, you will see what I mean).
I want to leave you with three ideas on how to use what you already are doing to become a more influential leader:
1) Make a list of your three core values, and make sure they are somewhere visible ( I love using sticky notes). Use this as a filter to help you with your decisions; it will give you congruency
2) Find out something in common with each member of your team, ideally related to your work morals and values. Make notes of this and make sure to highlight them when you are working together
3) We go towards what we see therefore I want you to visualise the 'place' you want to go and bring your team along. What is your vision? Find the best ways to explain it to each using the common ground to help you make your point!. You can write it down and have it visible in your office.
Extra tip: Use your hands to explain everything.
Author: Victoria Masso
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