The opportunity to influence others is one of the great joys and responsibilities of leadership. I believe that influence is the ability to move others from where they are to someplace new—to challenge old thinking, inspire new actions and help create a pathway for excellence in the lives of others. Influence is indeed a gift.
John Maxwell defines leadership as influence. Nothing more. Nothing less.
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I agree. I also believe that influence is a two-way street. Always has been. Always will be.
The truth is, we are influencing and being influenced every moment of every day. We race through life in a constant state of distraction and reaction while forfeiting the opportunity to intentionally influence the lives of others. We are unaware that people are tuned in watching and modeling how we operate through our actions, words and attitudes.
Influence happens by design or by default. The choice is yours. We influence others with our operating system every day. And, influence can be positive or negative. This too, is a choice.
I recently had new gutters installed on my home. When the project was completed, I went outside to inspect the work. The crew did a great job installing the gutters, except for one small area on the corner of the house. There, a 3-foot section of gutter was noticeably tilted to one side. I asked the young man in charge if he had noticed it. He said, “Yes, but I didn’t think it was too bad. I figured it was good enough.”
A moment of influence.
I laughed and then said to the young man, “I didn’t hire your company to do a good-enough job. I hired you to do it right. Please redo that section so I can tell everyone how wonderful you are.” The young man apologized and fixed the leaning gutter. We were happy. Before the young man left he said, “Sir, you were right, it looks better now.”
In the moment, I could have been influenced to settle for good enough. We don’t get a redo when it comes to influence. We have to get it right every time. I wonder how many leaders go through life allowing their influence to be good enough? How many people are doing work that is simply good enough? No one will ever pay a premium for good enough. Opportunities aren’t born from good-enough thinking. A good-enough mindset leaves our influence in the gutter. Remember, good enough… isn’t.
So, how do we ensure our influence is greater than good enough? Here are three things you can do to make sure your influence is better than good.
- Choose to be a positive influence.
Great leaders know that influence is equal parts reputation and legacy. Reputation is about how you show up—what others can expect from you. It goes before you and announces your arrival. It creates anticipation and expectation of what is to come from you. It is the return on influence that you have received from others. Legacy is the sum total of the influence you’ve had on others. It’s what is left behind when you hang up the phone, push send or engage with others. It is the one sentence that will be written on your gravestone when you leave this world behind.
- Accept responsibility for influence.
Good leaders understand the opportunity they have to influence others. Great leaders not only embrace this opportunity to influence, but they accept responsibility for what is influencing them. They guard their mouths, eyes and ears. They are intentional about how they influence and vigilant about how they are being influenced. They manage their inner circles. They are careful about what they allow into their minds. Why? Because we give out what goes in. We pour into others what has been poured into us. We reproduce what we are.
- Aspire to inspire. Great leaders are brilliant at inspiring others, especially when faced with challenging times. They can stir emotions that draw people in. They instill hope and shift people’s attention to the best possible outcome. Leaders find ways to inspire and be inspired. They know that mission, vision and purpose are just words on a wall until someone is inspired to live them out every day.
Influence is a two-way street. Always has been. Always will be. How will you pour into others as those before you have poured into you? Be intentional about how you influence others so you can be the best leader you can be to those around you.
Kevin Brown’s unconventional path to business and personal success has taught him that winning in business and in life requires anything but conventional thinking. With a streetwise aptitude and a never-quit attitude, he worked his way from the front lines in business to the executive boardroom. For nearly two decades, Kevin was a sales and marketing executive that helped grow a little-known family business into an industry giant with annual revenues reaching $2 billion. After a career in franchising, Kevin decided to retire from corporate America and pursue his passion for bringing The HERO Effect message to as many people and organizations as possible. Kevin is on a mission to help people and organizations embrace a simple philosophy that separates world-class organizations and high-performance people from everybody else. He is passionate about helping people expand their vision, develop their potential and grow their results. To learn more about Kevin Brown and The HERO Effect message, visit kevinbrownspeaks.com.