How to Become an Influential Leader

February 8th, 2019

Maybe you are new to your leadership position, or maybe you’ve been in your position for 20 years and the upward growth of your team has gotten slower over time. How can you fix that? How can you push your team to be the best they can be? There are many ways that you can go about becoming an influential leader – some deal with bettering yourself, some deal with motivating your employees, and some deal with simply taking a step back to understand the members of your team. No matter what approach you take, there will always be ways to implement best practices to become a more impactful leader.

Lead with excitement and not fear
Too often, we find that those in leadership positions are still attempting to use a fear-based approach while managing their teams. When employees feel like they are in a constant state of fear in the workplace, they cannot be themselves and work to their fullest potential. In most cases, these employees will feel anxiety, stress, and worthlessness. To avoid these emotional distresses, which could ultimately lead to high employee turnover, integrate a level of fun and play into your workplace. Interact with the members on your team and give them a reason to want to come to work each and every day.

Better people make better organizations
Growing your business will always be your number one goal throughout your professional career. You can spend countless hours in meetings developing strategies on how your leadership across upper-management can positively influence the growth of your business, but before you taken action in one area, none of that will matter. If you do not strive to make yourself a better person, you will never become a better leader. Be aware of how you can take ownership and become a better person so that you can then, in return, become a better leader that empowers those on your team to be leaders as well.

Cultivate your corporate culture
Many great leaders make it a best practice to always behave at work like they are living in a glass house. By painting the picture that everyone in the organization can always see what you are doing, it should then lead to more desirable actions and behaviors. For example, if you are always on your phone at work, the members of your team will quickly assume that it is also acceptable for them to be on their phones. You cannot simply write the culture you wish to see on a piece of paper, you must live and breathe that culture yourself so that your team can mimic exactly what you do to achieve that culture.

Focus on the growth of your team
While you are busy working on making yourself a better leader to continue growing in your career, you are becoming a role model for those on your team. Anyone who is leading a team, will come to find that they will constantly be learning from the members on their team just as frequently as those members are learning from their leader. It’s important to put any superiority to the side and focus on creating the next best leaders from those on your team, even if someday they become your leader down the road!

Share what you know and work in partnership
As a leader, you have clearly shown that you have processes in place that make a certain part of the business run successfully. However, as I’m sure you’ve heard it said before, just because you’ve been doing a process the same way successfully for 20 years, does not mean there isn’t a better way to get the job done today. As a leader, you need to be willing to collaborate with your team members to evolve and adapt processes or best practices that they develop. You will find that bringing all of the minds on your team together and using them collectively will benefit your organization much more than simply only using the knowledge you have to offer.

Understand that stories shape your employees
When an employee shows that they hold certain characteristics, it’s easy to form a judgement about that person and think you know exactly how they tick. However, there are multiple scenarios that play into why a person functions the way that they do, and you most likely have no idea what those scenarios are. Take time to ask questions and get to know those on your team. If you do not know why the members of your team work in a certain fashion, spend the extra hours figuring that out. You cannot lead successfully until you understand how to lead each individual member of your team. While you will always develop your own unique leadership style, the way you implement that style will look vastly different depending on what team member you are leading in that moment.

Own your own part
When a project goes south, or an outcome isn’t exactly what you had pictured it being, it’s easy to come up with all of the reasons that the members of your team had to do with that specific outcome. It’s not nearly as easy to take a step back and realize that you could have had a hand in the negative outcome. By placing blame, you chose to make the failure about only your team and not yourself, which does not paint the picture of a healthy team. Take time to understand how you could have given directions differently or how you could have increased the amount of help you offered to have potentially made that project a success. While there will always be a tendency to think about what others could have done differently, begin to think about what you could have done differently first.

Let go of what you cannot control
Lastly, even as the person that leads your team, there will be issues that arise and challenges that you face that you simply cannot control. Make it a best practice to step back and focus on the situation to pick apart the pieces that you can control, the pieces you might be able to influence, and then the pieces that you can’t control or influence. For the pieces you can control, this is where you continue to own your own part and be whatever you need to be to fix them. Sometimes you might not be able to control what is going on, but you can influence it. Figure out how you can shape your behaviors and actions to shape the situation and influence it in a positive way. If you find that you can’t do either of those things, you simply need to let it go. Your team will benefit from moving forward and completing the next project instead of being stuck on something they will never be able to change, which ultimately brings down the morale of your team.

There are plenty of ways to become an impactful leader with the members of your team. While before you may have thought that most of those ways deal with interaction with your employees, you can now see that there are a number of them that are internal self-reflection. Take time to rethink what you do on a daily basis and make sure it always makes sense for the success of yourself and your team.

For more career, sales, and leadership advice please contact our coaches
Joe Micallef – Sales Coach – email, or call (773) 329 0066
Donna Flynn – Career/Management Coach – email, or call (630) 624-4319