Influence. You’ve got it. Now What?
Cheryl Bachelder is an extraordinary leader. While CEO at Popeyes, Cheryl led the franchise to new heights, growing market cap from less than $300 million to over $1.3 billion. As Ms. Bachelder drive higher performance and success, employees paid ever-closer attention to all she said and did. One of the more memorable moments was being asked, “What vitamins do you take?”
All leaders have influence. What do you do with it? When people Most commonly it’s used to get our own way; to sway decisions to the outcomes we want; those that are best for us personally. It’s great for the ego, but is a very limited and limiting view.
Strong leaders treat influence like capital. A resource to be managed. Used wisely, you will never run out. Abuse it, and watch your well run dry. How so? By balancing influence used for self with that used for others:
1. Direct attention where it needs to be.
When all eyes are on you, the opportunity exists to direct attention to a fact that was skimmed over or a perspective that was ignored. Take their eyes off the shiny objects in the conversation.
2. Invite input and participation.
Draw others into the conversation that have been silent or don’t have the social strength to break into the discussion.
3. Highlight the contribution of others.
Use influence to share the limelight with others who have participated in success in less visible ways.
4. Strengthen another’s voice.
They spoke up, but were they heard? Are they considered the squeaky wheel? Your direction often lends instant credibility to the diverse thinker, and that may be just what your team needs to break out of the box.
5. Draw a conversation that has run its course to a conclusion.
Who hasn’t been in a meeting where a decision could have been made quickly, but discussion dragged on. Influence allows you to draw a conclusion and check for support so you can move on. Try, “May I summarize…?” Watch how many people thank you after the meeting.
6. Provide opportunities for connection and growth.
You know many people. How you can you help others grow by connecting them with others further along in development, or with unique ways or thinking?
7. Model both excellence and humility.
What do they see when they look at you? What traits are you demonstrating? What vitamins will they think you are taking?
Changing Your Mind
Influence can easily lead to arrogance. Consider the following to keep your ego in check as your influence grows.
- Keep the focus on goals that encompass more than just yourself. Look not only to your own interests, but those of others as well.
- Express genuine care for others, even the ones that are hard to love.
- Develop a strong network of people you can approach for honest feedback (not just those you like).
- Give freely without seeking return.
- Ask yourself what you’ve learned this week from others?
- Rejoice in others’ success.
When people are looking to you to lead, as often as you can, blend the ability to move your agenda forward with the opportunity to lift others up. Watch as your well of influence overflows.
Jeff works with growing businesses and aspiring non-profits to help them establish and execute leading strategies. He also works with executives who want to accelerate their growth. Learn more about Jeff here.