Within lots of studies and researches on and about the nature of leaders, many aspects of leadership still remain a secret. There are books and programs that teach how to be a leader. They give a list of what constitutes a leader. With over 200,000 respondents describing 20,000 leaders Zenger, Folkman, and Edinger conducted a four-year study to determine what makes an outstanding leader. The results showed that the ability to ‘inspire and motivate to high performance’ was the single most powerful predictor of being perceived as extraordinary leader. Why the single most? There definitely are other qualities engaged too.
I believe that there is no recipe or checklist on how to be a leader and how to influence others.
Does a leader firstly need to build an effective interaction to exert influence or is he able to influence people without building relationships first? Is it really necessary to influence others? if we are looking at the public media: Is a journalist able to influence society without having a relationship with majority or every one of them?
Have you ever tuned out on a conference or a meeting because the speaker was too wordy? Is your mind wandering when someone doesn’t get to the point? On a lot of business meetings the importance of getting to the point rather sooner than later is often overlooked. The people that do not comply with it cannot command or influence others. Why, for some people, it is easier to get attention? The key ingredients of it are “listening and hearing”. If you don’t stop talking, you have no way of knowing if you’re being heard. From this one would deduct that ‘if you want to have influence, learn to get to the point quickly’. Not necessarily…
People may not remember what a leader says, but they will for sure remember how he says it, how he behaves, what he does and how he treats them. Consequently, what is more effective: an inspiration by displaying “the right” behavior or an inspiration generated merely through words?
In my opinion the behaviour is very important. Leaders are and will be watched for their behavior. False, untrustworthy and egoistic behavior will lead to distrust. Distrust will weaken the influence and also the imprint and success. Are then the words by Kenneth Blanchard ‘the key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority’ true? Well, I’m not so sure. If you give people trust you don’t need influence, do you?
Yes, it is definitely true that leadership is not about command. Everything and all begins with hiring. If you hire people just because they can do a job, they will simply work for money. And you will need to command them what to do. But if you hire people who believe in what you believe in, they will work for you with blood and sweat and tears. You lead them.
And to conclude: the key to a leadership by virtue is not the influence. It is who you are and how you do it. It is about your inner part – it is about your virtue!