Leadership: 10 Ways to Influence Others
As a former middle and high school basketball coach, a mentor, a teacher, and parent, I've learned the tremendous value in leadership, and influencing others. The most important thing about leadership is that everyone is a leader. Whether you are young or old, leading a large group, a small group of employees, your family, or just yourself, we all are leaders. Leadership is not about an age, a position, or a title. If you are waiting on a title to be a leader, you are missing opportunities every moment of every day.
Great leaders have the heart of a servant, and lead others with the wisdom of humility and the grace of leading beyond themselves. Leading is a privilege, and should be embraced as an opportunity to serve others, so that it inspires people to pass it forward, as they lead others. If you lead with the heart of a servant, and intentionally inspire others, you will get the best out of others, and accomplishing your mission will be the result.
Here are 10 ways you can be a leader that will influence others and bring out the best in them:
1. LEAD WITH INTEGRITY. The most important trait of a good leader is integrity. You have to be honest, up front, and stern with your morals and values. You will be tested! Take care of people with a high level of dignity and compassion, and a high sense of undivided and consistent moral character, and you will thrive as a leader. I'm not saying you have to be perfect, and I'm not even saying that you have to be vocal, but I am saying you have to be fair, treat others with respect, and be trustworthy. Don't be the leader that ask everyone for their honest opinion, and then shut everybody down who gives it to you. Don't be the leader that treats the "higher-ups" with more honor than you treat the janitor. Good character flows through to everyone you come in contact with, regardless of their position. As a leader, you can hide some things, but you can't hide your ethics, your decency, or your lack thereof!
2. CONTAIN YOUR EGO. The chances are, you were given your leadership position because someone liked you, you knew someone, or they perceived YOU as a good fit!
Yes, you were good at your job, but so were the other people that interviewed for the job. If not for the grace of God, you wouldn't be in the position you are in. So be careful with your ego. You are not the center of attention and not the most important person in the world. You just happen to be a person that God allowed to string together more life changing good choices, than life changing bad choices. Great leaders embrace humility wholeheartedly, respect people, treat others the way they want like to be treated, and lead without an ego.
3. GIVE, GIVE, GIVE. Take a piece of what you make, or a service that you offer, and make it a part of your life philosophy to regularly give to those less fortunate. You will grow as a person, your leadership abilities will grow, and people will be blessed! Always lead with the notions of: Who can I help and How can I help them? It could be donations, tithing, pro bono work, or anything else to help those in need. It may be giving someone the type of opportunity that someone gave you many years ago, or simply taking a chance on a person, who, you know, would not normally get that chance. Stop looking for people to serve you, and spend considerable energy SINCERELY giving back. People need help, and it's your duty and responsibility, as a leader, to help the people that need the most help. If you aren't doing this in some form or fashion, start today!
4. KNOW YOUR STUFF. Be a Subject Matter Expert. Don't take shortcuts. Read, study, learn, and learn some more. People like to follow knowledgeable people. If you want to be seen as a leader, be a lifelong learner that knows the ins and outs of whatever it is you are supposed to know. Get in the weeds, study when others aren't studying, read the latest research, and know your stuff. There is nothing worse then a leader that has no knowledge! Read leadership books, real leadership articles, understand your weaknesses, embrace your strengths, and work on improving yourself. Good leaders are continually learning about leadership, practicing improvement, and discovering new ways to get better. If you happen to be put in a position of leadership in an area where you have no knowledge, LISTEN to those that do! The only thing worse then a leader that has no knowledge, is a leader that thinks they know everything, and won't listen to the people who have been doing the job for 10 years. If that's you, you aren't leading, you are bullying.
5. THERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MANAGER AND A LEADER: Managers do what they are told, manage processes, distribute workload, keep the wheels spinning on the machines, meet status quos, and check boxes. In contrast, leaders have a clear conviction and a firm understanding that none of that stuff truly matters if morale is low, and the people feel uninspired, and underappreciated. Leaders put people first and value them in both words and actions. If you want to know if you have a manager or a leader, simply ask the people they are in charge of. You will find out right away whether or not they are a manager or a leader. If you want to be a leader, place a high value on the people.
6. VALUE YOUR TIME LIKE A FANATIC. Your most valuable asset is your time. Practice being fanatical and measured about your time. Make daily to do list, assign time to each task and commit to it, mark off items as you complete them for a sense of accomplishment, build in some daily prayer reading and R&R, and treat your time with more reverence then money. We all have the same amount of time every day. You absolutely will not flourish or reach your full potential, as a leader, until you practice the art of managing your time more efficiently. In life and in business, don't waste precious time and important energy, getting angry with people who do not have the ability, or the desire, to give you what you want or need, when you want or need it. Managing your time as a leader, is knowing when and how to move!!
7. HOLD YOUR TONGUE. The absence of a response to ignorance is usually the most effective response to ignorance. Ignorance relies heavily on the attention and energy we give it, so the less attention you give it as a leader, the less traction it gains. In fact, the root word of ignorance, is "ignore". Something to consider, given how much attention we tend to give to ignorance. With that said, let me be clear: as a leader, there are times when you must address ignorance with tact, without anger or wrath, and in a responsible manner accompanied by measured compassion. As a leader, some of your biggest challenges will be knowing when and how to approach sticky situations. You have to learn to discer when, and when not, to engage. The ability to "hold your tongue", as a leader, will propel you. I didn't say "don't address things that need to be addressed". Of course, you address things up front, openly, honestly, and quickly! However, you must be measured with your tongue, and often times that means tackling issues with delicate diplomacy, thoughtfulness, and calculated discretion!
8. SPEAK LIFE. Encourage people. As a leader, your words have tremendous power. Practice speaking life into situations, because what you say, not only affects your listeners, but also affects you. Whenever you are given an audience, speak words that will be productive, and encourage others. Leaders can't be complainers and whiners. Leaders build, and you can't build when you are constantly tearing things, and people, down! When you master the art of telling the truth with kindness, decorum, and positivity, then the power of your words can truly add value and quality to the lives of those you lead. The people you lead look to you as the leader for guidance, not consistent ridicule. Nip problems in the bud with the harsh conversations, but your purpose is to build, not rip apart for the good of a "mission". Without careful words, and encouraging the people that are there to carry out your mission, your mission will never get accomplished! So always breathe life into situations through your words.
9. HANDLE FAILURE. Be focused under extreme pressure. You will make mistakes and you will fail. We all do. Failure should only be allowed to serve two purposes in your life. 1) make you wiser. 2) make you stronger. If you experience failure, feel free to be disappointed for a few minutes, simply because it's normal. After those few minutes are up, you must then learn from it and grow from it. Leadership requires resiliency, level headedness, and an even keel. You can't get too high and you can't get to low. Remember, there is always something better waiting for you around the corner. You have to be willing and able to handle failure, and even deliver failure, if necessary. The greatness within you won't come out until you are tested. Leaders emerge under pressure, during crisis, and after humiliating defeats. Failure comes to prepare you for success, so handle it!
10. BE ACCOUNTABLE: As a leader, personal responsibility is the price you pay for the position of leadership. If you don't take responsibility, don't even think about holding others accountable. When you make a mistake, admit it. When you mess up, say it. When you miscalculate, own it. Practice what you preach and don't expect something from others that you aren't willing to do yourself! The quickest way to lose people, is to deflect responsibility, point fingers, and indict others, without shouldering the load yourself. People don't follow people that are never wrong.
Remember, everyone is a leader. Everyday you lead you! Whether you are a parent who leads a family, a leader on your job, a business owner, or a lone wolf...you are always leading someone! Always lead with the right heart to serve others, fuse these 10 ways of influencing others into your leadership regimen, and strive to be your best!!