7 Leadership Rules for Gaining More Influence
It can be lonely at the top. When we are in a position of leadership, we can find it difficult to share our struggles. If we share our challenges with those that report to us, it can seem like a weakness in our leadership ability. We can have the tendency to internalize what we may be experiencing. However, not allowing others to give us constructive and effective feedback about how we are doing as a leader can hurt us in the long run.
I was recently reading a leadership book and I came across an interesting story: An organization decided to have a leadership “roast” for one of their leaders as a celebration and birthday gift to him. A “roast” is an event where co-workers, staff, and others can tell humorous jokes or impersonate the leader all in good fun. In this particular story, each staff member and co-worker got on stage and impersonated something the leader had said or done. The leader laughed throughout the night.
However, the next morning while having is normal one-on-one executive coaching session, he commented to the Executive Coach, that while the jokes and impersonations of him were funny, he couldn’t remember a single time he had said or done any of the things they were impersonating about him. He had no idea he was that harsh or that condescending to others. This was an eye-opening evening for the leader and it really served to improve his behavior and how he responded to others.
Before your organization or department decides to have a “roast” in your honor, I have stopped by to share 7 leadership rules for Influential Leaders. These rules will save you some embarrassment while improving your leadership influential skills with others.
You might be surprised that you have been responding and behaving in ways that your staff has been afraid to tell you about. If you really want to examine your progress and success as a leader, then I encourage you to ask those that report to you about these 7 influential leadership rules. Ask them if you are following each of them or are there a few you could stand to improve upon.
I can promise you if you work on following these 7 rules, your influence with others will improve dramatically. Even your personal relationships will improve and you will be a better person for it. I am thinking about crystalizing these 7 rules in my next leadership book. I will keep you posted.
For now, learn them and I would be interested to know what the results are. My contact information is at the end of this article and I would love to hear back from you. Ok, here we go…
Rule 1: Be strong but not condescending. With all the responsibility on a leader’s shoulders, there is no question in anyone’s mind that a leader but demonstrate strength. When things go wrong in an organization, people start looking to leadership for direction, vision, and solutions. The ability to lead during challenging times definitely requires a strong leader.
However, being a strong leader doesn’t mean we have to be condescending to those that follow us. Using sharp responses and harsh words with those that are seeking our strength can be destructive to those relationships. It may not be our fault as we are under increasing pressure. But one of the quickest ways to develop resentment and bitterness is to be condescending and treat people as though they are lower than us. We, as leaders, have to remember that people are not budgets, systems, or projects. People have emotions and they look to leadership to be strong not only in leading them but emotionally strong enough to be sensitive to them. Ask a few of your employees how you are doing with this rule. You might be demonstrating strong leadership, but it could be at the expense of hurting others with your words and actions. Fixing this trait can really improve your influential results.
Rule 2: Show kindness, but not weakness. Often when we think of being kind, we think of flowers, roses, cotton candy and a warm fuzzy feeling. Those might be kind and nice things, but kindness does not mean weakness when it comes to leadership. We can be kind and empathic to those we lead without allowing them to run over us or take advantage of our kindness. Kind leadership means we are kind enough to tell them the truth so they don’t make mistakes, we are kind enough to lay it on the line and say what we think and feel. But do we over-talk people? Do we interrupt them? Do we talk more than we listen as leaders? These are just a few questions to find out if you are living by this influential leadership rule of showing kindness.
Some values never go out of style. If you really want to improve your influence with others, try the timeless principle of kindness. A kind word or a warm smile can make all the difference in someone’s world while building your ability to influence them more effectively. Are you kind? Ask someone for feedback.
Rule 3: Be bold, but not cold. Our world is changing, technology is changing. We are constantly adapting to AI and the wave of massive change that is taking place in this generation. Some things should never change. Because we are developing robots (AI), doesn’t mean we have to become one. It takes courage and boldness to lead others. We have to stand up and stand out for what we believe in. We have to stand by our decision to let someone go or to create a new vision for the organization. But not if it means we have to be cold and unthoughtful towards others. We need to practice empathy as leaders. Put yourself in their shoes. See it from their perspective. We can lose our sensitivity by being overwhelmed with problems. We can even have the tendency to take out our frustration upon those that are following us. We can become cold and introverted.
But I promise if you open your heart and love the people you are leading it will impact your ability to influence them. Warm up to their ideas, warm up to their conversations, get out of your office, take a walk and actually connect with people. Offer a smile, shake a hand or two. Your presence and positive energy will be felt by others and have a lasting and positive impact on how well they perform for you as a leader.
Rule 4: Be proud, but not arrogant. As leaders, we can often get these 2 mixed up. It’s perfectly ok to take pride in your work, take pride in your accomplishments, and pride in the great job you are doing as a leader. But it is a very different thing to become arrogant. Arrogance says I forget about the people and staff that helped me get where I am today. I fail to acknowledge the contributions of others. I don’t need anyone.
Arrogance will destroy what you are trying to build. A good way to fix this one and live by this leadership rule is: seek out other people to give the credit to for where the organization and department is. Look for ways to compliment others for their contributions. This will cure the secret need to feel more important and thus become arrogant. Arrogance is a disease that everyone will know you have. When you see employees going the other way, or covering up their work nose when they see you coming, then you might be infected with this disease called arrogance. Always seek to honor others and you never have to worry about taking all of the credit and becoming arrogant.
Rule 5: Lead by permission, not position. Often what lands us into a leadership position is: how long we have been with the company or having technical skills, or even a certain education and background.
But it is important to always remember this fact about leadership:
“We lead out of our lives and not our position”
We gain more influence as a leader when we earn the permission from our followers to lead them. How do we gain their permission? By becoming a leader that others want to follow because they “want” to and not because they “have” to.
You will never see high performance, great employee engagement or great results from employees that are following you simply because you have a title or position. That type of leadership creates a “paycheck” culture. Employees are only there to pick up their paycheck and have no commitment to you as a leader or to the organization. The cure is to become a leader in life that others admire, respect, and honor and want to follow. Your life is your leadership and your leadership is your life. Be a great example of leading by permission and not simply because you are in the position.
Rule 6: Always think we, not me. If we are not careful as leaders, we can allow success to sabotage our influence. We can very easily forget those that helped us and have a sense of the “me” mentality. We can lean back in our chair and enjoy the results without taking time to acknowledge and appreciate those that helped us get there. Leadership rule 6 says we will always think we, not me. We will always find ways to say thank you to the team. We will take the time to value their contributions and give them a sense of significance and purpose in their work.
That level of appreciation for our employees will inspire them to work harder, stay longer and give their very best knowing they have a leader that will appreciate their efforts and tell them so. Don’t just say thank you but find creative ways to publicly acknowledge them. One act of appreciation can build a lifetime of influence. Thinking about others will shift you from selfish leadership to “selfless” leadership.
Rule 7: Have gratitude, not the wrong attitude. When was the last time you said: “Thank You?” Was it today? Developing gratitude in your life as a leader is one of the quickest ways to influence others. When your employees, co-workers, and constituents can see how much you appreciate them and how grateful you are for what they do for you every day that will motivate them to want to do even more.
Even money can’t motivate employees more than gratitude and appreciation. As I travel and speak across the country, I lose count of the surveys and employee feedback that says, “We just want to feel appreciated for the work we do.” The cost of employee engagement and employee satisfaction is far cheaper than you could ever imagine. We throw money at employees to motivate them, when all that is required is simply a “free” thank you. A word of appreciation and taking the time to value our employees is the gift that keeps on giving.
I close with this:
“People may forget what you say, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”
Are you ready to solve your most pressing problems?
Are you ready to adopt the Purpose-Driven Leadership principles within your organization?
Let’s start the conversation. Call or email me directly.