Last week I continued a short series on becoming a person of influence. This is the final installment in that series. In the first post I wrote about Integrity, Nurture, and Faith in people as essential to increasing your influence. Last week we looked at Listening, Understanding and Enlarging people. This week we’re going to tackle the final four actions that will increase your influence.
I have a lighthouse on the home page of my website. I like the symbolism of the lighthouse because lighthouses help ships safely navigate along the coast. They provide a reference point and identify potential dangers. The metaphor is great for leaders.
John Maxwell calls this the “Law of Navigation” in his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. The law states: “Anyone can steer a ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course.” Leaders (influencers) are people who help others find a way through troubled waters. There are some who see problems ahead and avoid them, some who experience problems and fix them, and some who neither see nor fix them but are overwhelmed by them. If you can help people see problems and safely navigate through them, you will increase your influence.
This is about more than friends on Facebook or connections on LinkedIn. This is about personal connection which is becoming more and more rare, unfortunately. We’ve all seen the scene at the restaurant where several people (sometimes even families!) are sitting at the table. No two of them are talking to each other because they’re all on their phones. Or the scene where the child is sitting with a parent, trying to get their attention, but they can’t because Mom or Dad is focused on their phone. This is the most “connected” period in history with the most isolated people ever. We can be isolated in a crowd because we are losing the art of interpersonal connection.
If you want to increase your influence, learn to connect with people. How do you do that? First, find their agenda. Go to “their world.” Connection involves pursuit more than invitation. What are they interested in and/or working on. You will connect if you get interested in that. Second, communicate from the heart. In the words of writer Susanna Clarke, “You’ve got to love like you’ll never get hurt. You’ve got to dance like there’s nobody watching. You’ve got to come from the heart if you want it to work.” Finally, find the key to their life. Everybody has one. Once you find it, ask permission to turn it on. That’s connection.
To empower is to make someone stronger and more confident. A sign at the Walmart headquarters says, “Through these doors pass ordinary people on their way to accomplishing extraordinary things.” That’s an empowering message. It encourages people to be strong and confident.
Empowerment means to see the potential in people. It means to say the words of encouragement and confidence in them that will inspire them to attempt what they thought they could not do. Empowerment means to share your knowledge and experience so they can grow faster and go further than you. It also means that you show others your faith in that person and the power you’ve given to them.
One of the most potent ways to be an influencer is to reproduce through others. It’s the principle of multiplication. John Craig said, “No matter how much work you can do, no matter how engaging your personality may be, you will not advance far in business if you cannot work through others.” One of the primary jobs of a leader is to produce more leaders. How do you do that?
- Model good leadership
- Provide leadership training
- Provide leadership resources
- Provide leadership experiences
- Create a growth environment
That wraps up our list of 10 essential qualities that will help you become a person of Influence. You may have noticed that the list is arranged into an acrostic. How do you become a person of influence? You
I ntegrity (have it with people)
N urture people
F aith (have it in people)
L isten to people
U nderstand people
E nlarge people
N avigate with people
C onnect with people
E mpower people
R eproduce through people