The Best Leaders Are Influencers
Randy Wolken, President & CEO

We all have our favorite leaders who have demonstrated they have influence well beyond their official positions. When they are involved, they are both persuasive and can get things done. Often, they can achieve the challenging outcomes demanded by everyone. We love them for this reason.

How do they do this? Why do they have so much influence, and how do they gain it? They demonstrate the fine art of influence. Influence is not controlling or commanding someone to do something. Influencers use inspiration and persuasion to advance a cause or outcome. It is extraordinary to witness the great influencers among us.

One of the most overlooked aspects of successful influencers is their ability to be influenced by others. They tend to be great listeners, learn quickly, and assess the landscape before saying a word. They want to demonstrate they can be influenced before they attempt to influence another person. It is this ability to absorb what others are feeling and saying that allows them to be effective. They are building relationships and trust.

Time and time again, I have witnessed individuals use this approach of building understanding and trust to have meaningful influence over a decision or project. The pattern has become clear to me, and I now see why it works in nearly all situations. Influencers realize they must build trust through interaction to have any chance of advancing their ideas. They want to understand other people and what others are trying to accomplish. If the person who wants to influence can incorporate key insights and needs of others, they can bring those individuals into a trusting coalition of supporters. Building consensus towards a solution is more about how people are listened to and respected and less about the specific ideas advanced. Better ideas and more significant commitment are essential elements of an influencer’s approach.

As you reflect on those individuals who have influence in your life, what attributes do they demonstrate? How do they listen and speak? What can you learn from the approach they take to leadership and life?

To be a person of influence means being open to being influenced by others. We can learn so much from those who use positive methods to influence others. I am convinced that influence is so much more valuable than power in today’s complicated and fast-moving world.