The beautiful thing about leadership is that it spans across all spheres of life. It is not culture, gender, or race based because it’s foundational principles remain same. The concepts and execution of leadership may diversify as the day unfolds new opportunities because in all uniqueness leadership is unique in it’s very core as we cannot move past leadership without being thoroughly appraised by others. However the influences and impacts about the true extent of our leadership prowess cannot be felt and evaluated if we don’t get to practice and display them to people and the society as the case may be.
Today I’ll be talking on ‘Leadership Prowess’ with a pivotal point of focus on ‘INFLUENCES’. Before I move on let me quickly drop references from the archives of leadership scholars;
John Maxwell: “Leadership is influence—nothing more, nothing less” culled from “The 21 irrefutable laws of leadership”
William Alan Cohen: “Leadership is the art of influencing others to their maximum performance to accomplish any task, objective or project” culled from “The Art of a Leader”.
Dr. Myles Munroe: “Leadership is the capacity to influence others through inspiration motivated by passion, generated by vision, produced by a conviction, ignited by a purpose” culled from “The Spirit of Leadership”.
Now with the above definitions from the few scholars mentioned amongst many others we can draw conclusions on this; that “Leadership is not Leadership if it’s very essence is not influential”—(definition by Pat Ima).
Allow me to simplify today’s discussion on influential leadership with the acronym I.N.F.L.U.E.N.C.E.S.
I-Initiate positive moves
N- Nurture good ethics
F- Fuel your focus
L- Learn to love
U- Undertake challenging tasks
E- Effectively build communication
N- Network intelligently
C- Command confidence & cohesion
E- Exemplify workable models
S- Service orientation
The acronym I.N.F.L.U.E.N.C.E.S will give a summary definition of “Influential leadership” but in order to fully have a better understanding of the above acronym let us take a closer look at each of them and how they give a unique boost to leadership prowess as leaders.
1. Initiate Positive & Strategic Moves
Notice I used the words ‘positive’ and ‘strategic’ before ‘moves’. As leaders it’s not just about making moves but it is more about being goal oriented. When we make positive moves we make them with an intent of getting it right but when we make strategic goals we make them with an intent of having definite outcomes or results. For instance if I must be influential I should always anticipate, plan, and know when and how to strike my decisions. The plan may be good but the strategy for execution may be wrong and if the strategy is not right it is as good as not having a plan.
2. Nurture Good Ethics.
No good leader works without ethics. You must first understand that to build influence is not a day-dream neither is it a day reality. It spans over time. Your principles over time will consistently bring you out to lamp light, so the question is what do you intend practising as your code of conduct. This kind of leadership skills is one that people ignore and they are surprised about why people don’t trust them to lead. If you must lead you must have personal good ethics because you can only successfully lead to the extent of what you practice.
3. Fuel your Focus.
This part of leadership prowess is what I teach all the time. There’s power in focus. What you consistently focus on gains life of it’s own. If nothing is driving your focus how do you intend to achieve the impossible. Just like a vehicle can’t move without gas or petrol that is the exact same thing that happens to us as leaders. Now you have to know that you can’t keep driving without you stopping to fuel your tank. Many leaders make this common mistake of leading without stopping to take a break to get led by other motivations and wisdom. You may have had a clear plan but you definitely need more than a clear plan to execute your visions and influence others properly. Therefore get your focus fuelled.
4. Learn Emotional intelligence.
Ah ha! I know for sure that a lot of leaders would want to lead with a good measure of empathy which is good because you can’t lead people who do not care about, they’ll definitely not follow you, however while empathy is a good skill to have many leaders get distracted by the down sides of empathy which is poor judgement. This is the more reason why as a leader you should possess the ability of feeling the emotions, then allow it run through your logical mind, then stay calm and think it through again and then proceed to making the best decision for the situation. It may not seem laudable by everyone at the moment but when eventually they see the benefits they would come to terms with your decisions. Emotional intelligence is the ability of being able to think with clarity of mind to make sound decisions that would benefit everyone in the long run and not minding the temptation of wanting to play sentiments that would be detrimental to the fairness and equity of everyone. A great leader is not necessarily one who shows empathy to all but it is rather the one who manages emotions and thus properly harnesses the skill of making good judgements despite all odds.
5. Undertake Challenging Tasks.
Yes, I had to bring this in simply because there are leaders who think that leading is all about delegating all the tasks especially the difficult ones to every other person except themselves. Those kind of leaders won’t be able to exert proper influence over their followers. Undertaking challenges doesn’t make you less of a leader rather it makes you grow in capacity. As a leader it is an error not to get actively involved in proffering solutions to a problem(s). This takes me to saying that you need to build in capacity by learning the necessary skills in your area of influence. For instance if you are into selling goods you’ve got to master good negotiation and marketing skills to effectively impact. Just imagine you employing a team of amateurs and you’re expected to lead them; it therefore means that you have to be an expert in that field in order to successfully make relevance in their lives otherwise you need to act smartly and bring in good hands to train them. No great leader ever influences his/her sphere without displaying skills of having the ability to undertake challenges.
6. Effectively Build Communication.
Now I don’t have to dwell so much on this. You should know by now that every good leader must possess adequate communication skills to make ease and aid influence. So you need to learn more about active listening skills, verbal and non-verbal communication techniques, body language, & voice tones amongst others and how they all play a role in effective communication. Always remember that a good leader is one who has mastered the art of communication.
7. Network Intelligently.
Networking intelligently as a leader shows how intentional you are about success. You’ve got to form a good network of friends and teams. Many people think networking is only applicable when it comes to marketing. What most of the time they fail to realise is that building a network is what helps you to reach and influence a wider coverage where normally acting as a single entity would not have done much for you. You need to be intentional at building good networking skills. This will definitely give your rising a greater boost as an influential leader.
8. Command Confidence and Cohesion.
To create influence you need to have a good measure of confidence as an individual. It is often taught in public speaking that confidence makes your audience believe every sense and nonsense that comes out of your mouth, LOL (quite hilarious but true). The same thing applies to leadership. Having confidence can inspire confidence in your followers as well. Confidence has a way of being easily contacted by the people who believes and follows you. Therefore build in confidence into your character because the confidence level of your team will boost cohesion in the team of people following you. You need to create influence, yes, but you can’t get successful at it if you don’t even believe in yourself. Always remember that you are unique in your own way and so also you are unique in your abilities to lead. Build in more leadership skills and get the confidence you need to lead a team of followers.
9. Exemplify Workable Models.
As a leader if you lead without leaving replicable blueprints of your leadership skills then you’ve successfully done nothing as a leader. You need to lead with models that can be replicated. Which is why you need to build in good leadership prowess. If someone has been looking up to you for a while, how do you feel leaving them or them leaving you without any intrinsic value passed from you to them. For me I’ve got a motto of impacting everyone I come in contact with which is usually what guides me to act wisely and smartly when I meet with people no matter who they are and what positions they occupy. Your silent followers are even a more great force to impact. As a leader always carry this in your heart that people are actively and passively learning from you therefore be good at leading at all times.
10. Service Drive.
Service drive is one thing that should be part of every influential leader. You can’t be service driven and not get driven by service to the place of greatness. Leadership influence is seen when a leader truly enjoys service to humanity without feeling pressurized to do so. A quick way to influence is through rendering of services. Be smart to embrace a life of service as part of your daily living. It would help you develop and connect faster to people. A servant leader is an influential leader.
In summary leadership prowess is quite broad and for today we have been able to successfully break down influential leadership into many skills that can be harnessed to make us better leaders in our various works of life, however notwithstanding there’s more to influential leadership & leadership prowess, read up more from my next article on this series. I believe everyone is born to lead in one area or the other. You don’t have to wait for positional leadership to lead, leadership begins first with you. How you then apply your leading skills to everything you do matters a lot but what matters most is the influences we create after all said and done.
Do yourself the favour of going through the I.N.F.L.U.E.N.C.E.S again and practice what you’ve learnt and trust me your leadership skills will only continually get better as the day unfolds.
I am Pat Ima and I’m glad I have successfully made my own influence today in your life. Stay tuned for more leadership inspirations and get better at leading successfully.
Written by Pat Ima
Facebook: @Pat Ima