I FREQUENTLY hear the phrase “leadership is influence” in discussions. The questions to ask are not whether leadership is influence, but what exactly is influence for a leader? What does it take for a leader to really lead with influence? Can influence be learned and harnessed as a leader’s ability?
I believe that perspective is power. For leaders to harness the invisible power of influential leadership, they must first have the “3P perspectives”: People, Purpose, Performance.
Influence People positively
Leadership is about people. There is no influence if there are no people in the equation. Organisations need people to function. Tasks require people to carry them out.
Influencing people positively to drive business performance is key. No matter how capable you are as an individual or a leader, your efforts will not amount to much if you cannot influence and deploy people who are willing to go the extra mile for you.
If your top performers do not buy into you as a leader, it is fairly easy for them to leave and join another company that is run by an influential leader. Disengaged employees who remain will deliver work of a quality that is required of them — they are not likely to go the extra mile.
The organisation’s performance will eventually stagnate or decline and it will be only a matter of time before the “boomerang” returns to you, and you could potentially lose your role because of your inability to influence and deploy talent positively.
Influential leaders understand that while key performance indicators (KPIs) need to be fulfilled, that should not cause people development to become a blind spot just because the priority is business.
In the fast-paced business cycle, it is tempting to overlook people’s emotions and development and allow these elements to take a back seat. With people, there is no “back seat”. They are the drivers of your business. An influential leader puts people first.
Influential leaders actively look for ways for people to grow. They challenge employees to stretch their abilities with more demanding assignments, and give them opportunities to take the stage and shine. Their people’s success is their own success. They are successful because their people are.
This is the power of reciprocity at work. When people appreciate the opportunities you give them because you sincerely want them to succeed, they, in turn, will ensure that you succeed as their leader. This is the hallmark of an influential leader.
Inspire Purposeful action
A sense of purpose means having clarity in what you stand for, most importantly as a person, because this drives your approach to managing people and making decisions in business.
A sense of purpose is the driving force of influential leaders, giving them great resolve and determination to go the extra mile to achieve their vision.
When I coach executives, one of the points I emphasise is that personal values reflect one’s values as an influential leader.
Yes, you can change your behaviour, but the change will not be permanent if it is at odds with your personal values. This disconnect will spill over into your work as a leader. People will see it, sense it and talk about it.
An influential leader is purposeful. When you have a purposeful leader, you have purposeful people, and purposeful people bring purposeful profit. What do you stand for as a person?
What do you believe in when you are managing people? What do you see in them that you can bring forth, and accelerate both their success and yours?
Ignite extraordinary Performance
Influential leadership is about getting the best out of your people, being purposeful in driving them to greater heights and, most importantly, converging the two for great business results.
This calls for a good balance of the three elements of People, Purpose and Performance. Often, organisations achieve one or two Ps out of the three. Even the most successful companies have to constantly calibrate and balance the 3Ps. It is always a work in progress.
Each “P” by itself is a necessary pit stop for leaders to pause and ask the following:
“What have I done for my people to ensure they grow and prosper?”
“Do I know what drives my people at work, and do they know what I stand for as a person?”
“What can I do to amplify my people’s potential?”
Influential leadership is about regularly calibrating your perspectives on the 3Ps of People, Purpose and Performance.
Here is one simple question to ask yourself. If your people see you on the street, do they come up to you and say “Hi!” or do they take an alternative route to avoid you? The answer says a lot about your leadership style.
Article by Joseph Wong, a behavioural transformation coach and influence expert with Richard Gavriel Speaker Management. For more information,
e-mail Richard@RichardGavriel.com or visit www.richardgavriel.com