Leadership is an influence process. Whenever you try to influence the beliefs or behaviors of another person, you are engaging in leadership.
By this definition we are all leaders in some form or fashion.
Understanding Basic Leadership Roles
Q: Are you a parent?
You’re trying to lead your children.
Q: Are you a sports coach?
You’re trying to influence the performance of your team.
Q: Are you part of a team at work?
You’re engaging in leadership when you try to influence the behaviors of your teammates.
Q: Are you a sibling, spouse, friend, or neighbor?
You’re in a role that requires influence.
Virtually all the roles we play in life require influence and leadership.
Leading People Toward Influence
So, you are probably a leader in some capacity, if not in many. And with this, YOU have influence. But how do you lead people toward influence? How do you help others, and yourself, become influencers?
It all starts with trust.
Influence requires you to be in relationship with someone and all healthy relationships are built on trust. Trust, and thereby influence, doesn’t “just happen” in relationship. It is built through the use of specific and intentional behaviors. Our behaviors either build or erode trust with others.
4 Key Elements of Trust
There are four key elements of trust you must cultivate in your life in order to be a leader and person of influence.
These four elements are the ABCDs of Trust:
Leaders build trust when they demonstrate competence. People trust you when you have the knowledge, skills, and expertise to competently lead in your chosen role or profession. Able leaders produce results by using strong problem-solving and decision-making skills that allow them to set and achieve goals that produce a track record of success. People don’t trust incompetent leaders, no matter how lovable or respected they may be.
Leaders are believable when they act with integrity. Behaving in an honest and ethical manner, admitting your mistakes, and “walking your talk” are key ways that leaders build trust. Treating people ethically and equitably through fair policies and not playing favorites builds trust and confidence in a leader’s character to do the right thing.
Trusted leaders connect with their followers on a personal level. They use good communication skills to establish rapport and they take the time to appreciate and recognize the good work of others. Connected leaders understand that leadership is about relationships. They understand that every person has a story – their life experiences, hopes, dreams, and fears – and they make that personal connection that lets their followers know they are valued and respected.
Being reliable and dependable builds trust. Following through on commitments, doing what you say you’re going to do, and taking accountability for your actions (and those you lead) is all part of being a dependable leader. Dependable leaders have an organized system that allows them to follow-through and meet deadlines, and they are timely in responding to others and don’t drag their feet when making decisions.
Leadership Is Influence
Leading people toward influence is an inside-out proposition. It starts on the inside, with your desire to be a trustworthy person, and evolves to the outside where the ABCDs of trust thrive in your relationships with others. Remember, influence is leadership, and leadership begins with trust.
So how are you doing leading people toward influence? How are you building trust with them and teaching them to build trust with others? How well are you doing in the ABCD’s of trust? I would love to hear your thoughts!
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