What Makes an Influential Leader?
You’ve probably heard this before: being a leader doesn’t require a title and having a title doesn’t make you a leader. Leaders are different from managers for an obvious reason — true leaders influence others to become better versions of themselves, but that’s easier said than done. In fact, transitioning from the one to the other can be quite a big jump!
Think about it this way: a manager tells people what to do, but a leader inspires people to do better. If you aspire to be a great manager, i.e., an expert planner, organizer, and coordinator, that’s great! All organizations and teams across the world need effective managers, too. If your goal is to motivate and to inspire, though, being an influential leader is likely in your future!
Learn. Grow. Thrive.
Leadership doesn’t imply authority. Leadership implies influence. You should also know that becoming an influential leader doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process and certainly a learning curve! Luckily, I’ve had several encouraging and authentic mentors over the years that have helped me along this journey, and as I became more passionate about this topic, I have invested time in reading and taking courses to learn all I can. With that said, here are my five tips to help you on your journey to becoming an influential leader.
Have a Clear and Compelling Destination
Are your goals keeping you up late at night? Do you set your alarm clock or do your goals wake you in the morning? If your destination is clear and compelling, your goals will drive everything you do. The truth is that leaders who do not clearly define their goals are not likely to be followed. First things first, write down your goals, post them to your dream board, and speak them into existence. Without a compelling destination, your team will find it difficult to see the vision of where you are headed, and not be compelled to follow you there.
Communicate the WHY and not Just the WHAT
Here’s an important difference between managers and leaders. Managers tell people what to do. Leaders inspire people to do better. If you communicate the WHY it will invoke more creativity and problem-solving in those around you, then simply telling them WHAT to do. The WHAT is the work. The WHY is the vision, inspiration, and reason behind what you need to accomplish. Your job as the leader is to help your team understand the philosophy behind the end goal. Empower your team to do the WHY and the WHAT will follow!
Focus on the Few
High productivity means leveraging your time by ONLY doing the MOST important things. If you’re like me, I’m sure you’re being pulled in different directions all day long. That’s why it’s essential you become discerning about how to spend your time —you can apply this tip to your personal and professional life!
What’s more, did you know that 80% of results are based on only 20% of the activity? For this reason, focus on developing the two to three activities that would drive the most results. Yes, that means letting go of the rest, but be OK with that! Be laser-focused on your top priorities and hone the skills necessary for profound impact. Once you’ve evaluated how you’re spending your time relating to those two to three activities, you’ll have a better understanding of how to adjust your priorities to get to your goal.
Empower but Don’t Enable
As a leader, people will bring you their problems. Oftentimes, your instinct is to rescue them… but if you do you’re doing them a disservice. Why? Even though your intentions are good, by rescuing others you’re creating an army of problem gatherers instead of an army of problem solvers! As a leader, you must encourage problem-solving and not problem gathering. Once your team can exist and function without coming to you every time they’re faced with a challenge, you know you’re doing a great job! This is also imperative to growing to the next level of being an influential leader when you can surround yourself with a team of people that can solve problems. Remember: Leaders don’t create followers, they create other leaders!
Model the Behavior We Want Others to Emulate
I love this idea: It’s super easy to pick up on a disconnect between what people say and what people do. The truth is people watch what you do and do what you do! That’s why it’s so important to model the right behavior from having the right attitude and posture to how you interact with others. Those are the lenses people see you through. Keep in mind, modeling leadership behavior also means extreme accountability. At all costs, no matter what, you must be accountable and never shift the blame but always have grace and stay calm under pressure.
For more information on this topic, be sure to watch the replay of this month’s #realchats. You can find the video pinned to the top of my Facebook page @AOlsonRouke. Comment below with your thoughts on this topic or suggestions for our next #realchats topic.