What is Leadership?

You may be asking, “What is leadership?”

By definition, leadership is the ability to influence someone. In management, it’s the ability to influence somebody by helping them get what they want while contributing to the company’s goals. Notice we said, “help them get what they want”?  It’s about helping someone for their own advantage. Whether you are a business owner, professional, salesperson or parent, you need to balance how you influence others with how you help them. Although you may gain in the process, the primary focus of being a leader should always focus on doing what is best for those you lead.  In other words, don’t steer someone into making a decision that does not match up with what they really want just because it works best for you. That is manipulation and no one likes that. The same concept applies if you were to give one person an advantage or perk that affects the rest of the team – don’t do it.

It’s important to know that we influence everyone around us, whether we realize it or not. Since our leadership affects in such a broad way, it’s a good idea to decide how you want to influence and lead a situation. We call this ‘deciding how you want to show up’ or ‘deciding your leadership posture.’

What makes a good leader?

When you think about it, you already know a lot more about leadership and influence than you realize. We learn about leadership everyday of our lives. As children we learn from parents, teachers, coaches, and adults who we are close too. Later, we learn more about leadership by watching those in authority. Later we notice what actions we do get others to buy in to what we’re attempting to do. Now everyone is watching you and assessing your leadership. And everyone knows a good leadership from bad when they see one. Why, because good leaders cause us to feel good about what’s going on. Bad leadership creates injustice, a lack of trust and safety.

Although most people have a basic understanding of leadership, they may judge a leader based on their own personal values. This may give an indication to leadership and how you are showing up but the only thing that dictates leadership as a powerful tool, is its ability to influence others. Our personal bias only gives a response to others leadership. In other words, you may not like a leader but feel that you have-to follow them rather than want-to follow them. And although you wouldn’t lead like they do, they are using leadership principles to lead.

How to influence as a leader

Since we are all leaders at some level, it would be wise to consider how we influence others every day. If we are ready to lead and make a positive impact in other lives, we need to know the steps to getting people on board with our ideas. 

These are the four skills someone to be an effective influencer or leader:

Leaders are intentional. 

Most people will quickly notice someone who has thought things through before they act. They seem to have a sense of clarity that is empowering. In fact, people have been known to follow a dynamic leader that they feel is trustworthy, sincere, and capably even if they didn’t completely understand how they were going to succeed. The point here is that people respond emotionally to a leader and their leadership. Every leader sends off signals or gives information to those around them for interpretation. Some of these signals include words, action, physical appearance, body language, energy, and the emotional field they create contribute to what others interpret about their leadership. Although some of this is vary tangible and can be physically seen, such as body language, others are felt. All of these are important but unfortunately, some leaders don’t consider how they show up or are perceived by others.

That’s why intentionality is important; good leaders develop good habits. And Good habits sent the right leadership signals to those around you. Good habits to develop include, self-management, listening to others without interrupting them, being respectful, telling the truth, staying in personal integrity, doing what you say, and choosing your words with care because people are watching and listening to what you say. 

As for your actions, be well prepared for presentations or speaking opportunities, even if it’s a casual chat in the lunchroom. Think through what you will say in advance on those sticky or difficult subjects, so you communicate effectively. Learn to collaborate with others to bring out the best in those around you. Working side by side gives others the opportunity to assess your leadership and become comfortable working with you.

Leaders connect with other. 

When you come into the space of someone who is influential, you’ll notice that they include you as well. You may wonder why do they do this? Leaders understand for them to influence others they need to be around people to better understand them. Leaders are constantly learning how to communicate with others by understanding their personality, their background, and what motivates them. By learning this about someone they can understand how to influence them in a way that appeals to what’s interesting and best for them, and that’s important. The more you interact with them the more likely you will build trust which is a core foundation of leadership.

Connection and trust will start to build collaboration and helps to build your team of supporters. This is why people are much more likely to want to collaborate with you and excited about the possibilities of what you might accomplish together.

Leaders model resilient skills. 

No leader is perfect. So, you will make mistakes, you will have challenges and adversity that will define who you are in the minds of those you influence. Any leader can seem to have it all together in good times when everything is going well. It’s a dynamic leader that rises to the challenge when things get tough. In fact, challenges show the cracks and blind spots in your leadership foundation. People want to know that your relatable and authentic. So, when you make a mistake and correct it, it gives people a sense of safety knowing they could take a risk and possible fail too.

A good leader is aware that things don’t always go as planned and may even plan for it. When the unexpected happens, they are ready to dig in and find new ways to manage a situation before it becomes a big mess. They take calculated and well thought through risks and reveal what they are facing to the team, so they know what the plan is. When the team knows the truth about what is really going on, it gives them the chance to dig in and give assistance to the leader. Often, a leader will keep the difficulties to themselves in hopes that it will protect the team. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work. Most people will figure out somethings happening that the leader is not talking about and assume the worst. That’s why it’s always best to be the leader with the right information that you provide to others around you. You will gain respect and leadership credit in the eyes of the team of people you lead.

Leaders are continuing learning about others and themselves. 

In the presence of a person of influence, you’re keenly aware that they are one step ahead because of how they constantly choose to grow and learn. They seem to listen more than they talk and as one leader once said, “I know all that I know, but I don’t know what you know.”

It is this passion for understanding and growth that drive a leader to learn about themselves and others. They understand that the more that they know about a situation and the people involved, the better they can influence it when they lead. 

Now consider how you influence others. Are there areas that you need to re-evaluate? Where can you improve? What blind spots are showing up in my leadership? Take a look at how you relate to your colleagues, direct reports, superiors, or anyone in your life to see where you may be falling short.

As you build influence, notice what is happening when what you’re doing is making an impact on someone else. This feedback will help you to start becoming aware of how your leadership is showing up. Then it’s easy to make changes that will give you more leadership influence.


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