Leading by Influencing

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” 
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

When I was younger and someone mentioned “leadership”, I instantly began pondering people high in office, such as the president or a governor, but as I grew older I realized that there is no one type of person that is cut out for leadership. Leadership is any individual inspiring another or a group and it is crucial in our lives to develop habits of effective leaders. There is going to come a time in your life when you must be a leader; therefore, it is in your best interest to practice every day.

Why choose to be an every-once-in-a-while leader when you can be a leader every day?

Consider this, when you are sitting in a classroom and your teacher begins lecturing, it is very tempting to drift away into your own thoughts or to be impacted very little. All you can think about is what you are going to do when you get out of there because this teacher obviously has nothing important to say. Why do we have these thoughts? A reason is because when we are being lectured or managed, we feel as if we are being controlled and it turns into a negative experience. The teacher is not leading, but managing. There is also the type of teacher who instantly loses control of her class because she lets one student push her over and all of the other students have directed their attention to that one individual. In this situation, the teacher huddled and did not take a stand. Not being knowledgeable about a topic or having the assumption that because he or she had the title, which meant the students automatically must hold on to every word the teacher says.

We know how that goes.

However, there always seems to be that one teacher that does hold our attention. It’s the teacher that gets on our level and inquires questions that reflect the course material, but also our lives. He or she shares stories and seems to have a genuine interest in our learning. They also provide information to guide our understanding and thought process-not dictate it. These are the teachers that have an influence on us. Leadership’s foundation is influence and I believe every person has the ability to be an influence in the lives of others. We must be influencers and not regulators.

One of the first steps in understanding leadership is to develop you own person definition of the word. Imagine a person who has had an influence on you. What characteristics did this person have? What did the display? Or think of a time when you were on a team. Was the leader the person head of the team or was it an individual who did not have a title, but impacted your progress and your way of going about team activities?

         Ask yourself: How can I make more of a positive influence?

                What areas do I need to become more knowledgeable in?

                How can I communicate the team’s core values?

                What educated risks could we be taking?

                What is my leadership style?

                Am I enthusiastic?

                Do I really believe in what I am displaying?

                     Now go develop that definition!

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