Influence is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself. Leadership is influence. So how do you gain influence with those you lead?
Each year/season I put together the best team I can to fulfill the vision and objectives our program has. By default, I either go one of two ways with those I lead. I am either the camp counselor - fun, excited, happy, everything is great kind of attitude or the dictator - I want no input, I am always right, do what I say kind of attitude.
Both approaches do not help gain any influence. The only gain I would get with these two approaches is giving ample material for people to talk behind my back.
Influence is earned. Every day I must earn the influence I have as a leader. You can not lead without it. And to have influence you must first have their trust.
This is how I gain the influence from those I lead:
Be personable and authentic
I am the same with my children, my friends, my athletes and my coaches. What you see if what you get. I do not wear masks for my different roles in life. I am who I am. I am not perfect, but I am transparent. It is important to "know one's audience" when communicating. However, I believe it to be honest and authentic to those I lead. My expectations change with my audience, but I don't. I purposely tell others my weaknesses and then ask for help. This empowers those I lead with their role. "You fit in an area I am weak. This is why I need you." I joke and talk to them as people, not just a commodity.
Not forgetting something that is important to someone will keep you reliable to those you lead. Put it on a to-do list app, calendar it, or anything else you need to do to set a reminder not to forget. With every on my to-do item, I try to give it a timed deadline. "I will have that email to you by tomorrow morning." "I will have that done by Friday." Then come through on your promise. Nothing kills influence faster than over promising and under delivering.
Give opportunities for success and failure
Help your followers believe in themselves. Find opportunities to show the team you believe in them by allowing them to take risks. When they succeed, praise them for their accomplishment and not your wisdom in the delegation. They will not always succeed. When a failure occurs you take the responsibility and give no blame. In private, teach those you lead what not to do next time. The trust will grow because of your faith in your people. They will not want to disappoint you.
Yoda said, "do or do not. There is no try." Cute. But wrong. I like when those I lead try. I find ways to applaud the effort. Your people need to try hard. Smart, yes! But nonetheless your people need to be recognized as an individual who tries and works hard. Achievement is only possible after much trying.
Every leader wants respect. The best way to get the respect you want is to give it out first. Do those you lead feel respected by you? They should. Everyone on the team brings something to the vision of the program. Leaders need to spend time publically affirming those attributes that garnish respect. On the flip side - disrespecting someone is a sheer way to lose influence. Avoid humiliation and embarrassing others in your leadership. Your example speaks volumes to everyone in attendance of your leadership.
Emails, phone calls, texts, are returned quickly. I am emotionally present in face to face conversations and make the time to show the person speaking they are important even if I feel what they are saying may not be life or death important. People are worth your time. Being approachable means, I do not dismiss people or what they have to say. I ask a lot of questions, including what they think on the subject. Do people want to tell me what is on their mind?
The health and success of my team hinges on my leadership. I must earn those I lead's trust and gain their influence. This happens by ultimately showing them I value them greatly. My weakness is being the camp counselor or dictator type of leader. My team helps me stay accountable.