WHAT WILL YOUR LEADERSHIP LOOK LIKE IN 2020

“Don’t Fool Yourself; LEADERSHIP IS HARD!”

In my effort to cultivate and grow my leadership, I find it challenging to stay the course and achieve what I read, witness, and teach. In fact, I often find myself telling people one thing and doing the exact opposite. Doing that can hurt those you lead, coach, mentor, or teach. If you don’t improve, you will ultimately lose respect, trust, and, eventually, the ability to influence. 

As 2020 approaches, I decided to evaluate my leadership abilities and identify those things I do well and those areas where I need to improve. The last four years have been a personal leadership challenge for me. I’ve had a job change that put me in a role with no direct reports and limited my decision-making authority. I’ve had to learn to lead differently. The term; “influence without authority” has become an actual reality challenge for me.

During my self-evaluation, I identified my top 5 strengths in leading others and having a strong influence on the decision making process.

1. I am a very HIGH ENERGY AND PASSIONATE leader in the areas I believe in.

2. I am willing to embrace CHANGE, even if I don’t entirely agree with it

3. I am PERSISTENT in my approach to achieving my desires, goals, and objectives

4. I am CONFIDENT in my decision making but open to ideas and suggestions

5. I am a strong ENGAGER of people

It is always good to identify your strong points, but it can be challenging to identify areas for improvement. The way I approached this was to reflect on 2019 and the many conversations, suggestions, and feedback I received throughout the year. I am always asking for feedback (although many times I don’t want to hear it or I have an excuse) 

Based on my evaluation and reflection, I will focus on building and improving the following five leadership traits in 2020. 

1. Being Clear in My Communication – I will work to enhance my communication approach through tone and word choices. Working to pull my feelings and frustration back and undoubtedly transfer my thoughts, ideas, and expectations. I will explain the “why” more often and ensure people are well informed. People want to be “in the know.” People want to deliver expectations, but can’t be successful if we don’t clearly and successfully communicate. They also want to know what the rewards are for good work and the consequences for sub-standard work.

2. Build Stronger Relationships – Relationships are critical to leadership. Strong relationships build trust and respect and offer the opportunity to influence. I will work to be present with my customers, leaders, and the workforce. I will reach out for general conversations and make sure I follow-up with the right people. I will work to show how much I care about all facets of the business. It is said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” They are looking for you to care for them and build a working relationship. I will work harder to learn and remember names and recognize that life is going on outside of work.

3. Humble Myself – I am am very confident in my role but must be better at leading with humility. I don’t know everything and always make the right decisions, but I will work diligently to illustrate my knowledge through the quality of my choices. I will recognize all persons, regardless of position, and work to realize that no one is any more important than anyone else. I will demonstrate this through my actions and interactions. I will let each know how important they are by involving them and getting their brains in the game.

4. Be a Stronger Encourager – I will continuously look for and recognize the great work people are doing. I will express my gratitude and exemplify the positive difference they are making. I will encourage them for their actions, the work they perform, and the value they add.

5. Have Courage – I understand creativity and innovation drive progress and performance. I will make bold decisions, push back when needed, but fully support the final decision. I will have difficult conversations when necessary, and I will do the difficult right things.

With a new year and new decade roll into place, I feel like it is the optimal time to increase my influence and achieve more than I ever have. I don’t know where most of you fall within your leadership needs (unless I know you). Still, I believe the results from my self-evaluation will encourage many of you to look within yourself, identify areas of improvement, and make the necessary changes to become a stronger influencer and more effective leader.

LOVE – HATE – DISCONTENT What’s Your View of Our World?

Recently, I was on a flight trying to get some sleep before arriving to meet up with my colleagues for a series of meetings. Usually, I prefer to take the first flight out so that the chances of a delay are reduced. However, I live 2 hrs from the airport and a 6 am flight is pretty darn early. So, I settled into my window seat and put on my headphones drifting off to the sounds of Ray LaMontagne. As people boarded, I realized very quickly that my flight was going to be a challenge. Two ladies sat behind me. And apparently, they began their early morning with several Bloody Mary’s.

Both women were VERY loud, vulgar and the one directly behind me would continuously slam down the tray and kick my seat. Her timing was impeccable! Every time I fell asleep, she did something to wake me up. Frustration began to settle into my soul. I would continually turn around and give her the evil eye, trying to get her attention to stop. However, I think it encouraged her to do it even more. I eventually fell asleep but awoke when she violently pulled the top of my seat backward. She was in haste to go to the bathroom and lacked a complete disregard for others around her.

I realized sleep would evade me. I took out my laptop and continued to listen to music with my noise-canceling headphones. The two of them were loud enough that I was able to hear their conversations (even with my noise-canceling headphones). I tried to ignore them, but the topics began to intrigue me. They were talking about politics, their hairdresser, husband, and boyfriend. I heard them bring up the cashier at the store and the “idiot” that made them miss a green light because he was on the phone (I would agree with them on that one). They talked about the ladies they were meeting for their birthday weekend and how annoying they were. They talked about how long it took the flight attendant to get them their drinks (I was praying she forgot). And this continued for the duration of the 3 hr flight.

As I sat there and went through all of his, I began to think about how people view the world we live. And I realized it’s all based on our perspective and the influences surrounding us.I thought about the phrase “love is, actually, all around.”

If you spend time pursuing social media, the web, CNN or Fox News, I believe you’d find that the current state of affairs is one consumed with hate and greed. Ethical values are hard to come by in the workplace, politics and within personal lives. It seems people with integrity are few and far between and that the underlying message to the young and old is that ” the world sucks, and then you die.”

I think the advent of social media and an increased interest in the 24 hr. news, we, as a society have become obsessed with the shockingly evil things that take place. The good in the world is rarely highlighted.

In the words of Hugh Grant’s opening monologue in the movie, “Love Actually,” he says this;

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinions starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the twin towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate and revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually, is all around.”

As a frequent business traveler, I spend a large part of my day in and out of airports, traveling between cities, hoping to make my connection and eating high fat “travel” food. Airports provide a chance to catch up on phone calls, answer emails and work on projects. It is also a great place to people-watch.

Airports offer a simple look into society and the variation found in individuals. There are people happy to go on vacation and people frustrated because their travel plans have changed. There are some who’ve had too many drinks (remember the ladies behind me?) and others experiencing deep sadness as they travel to attend the funeral of a loved one.
One thing I’ve learned from the airport terminals and from sitting on long flights is that “love is actually all around us.”

I realize that we are not as bad as social media and the news make us out to be. Sure, I believe the world has changed. Our moral compasses have been compromised, and ethics and integrity have taken a back seat. However, in the modified words of Hugh Grant, mothers and fathers love their kids, grandparents cannot get enough of their grandkids, people will help others, and our hearts are generally kind. We do love each other, regardless of how we look, dress and the color of our hair. We ultimately know what is right and choose to make our own decisions. We are happy and sad, but we lean on family and friends to support and encourage us.

There is still a moral compass upon us, and we are a society based upon ethical business practices through the integrity of others. When someone is wrongfully influenced, leaders will arise to bring about truth and honesty. Although society has evolved over the years, I am determined to see the good that is all too often consumed with the sensationalism of hate.

undefinedDenis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management He is an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader.  

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture change training, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

3 LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLES YOU MUST GET RIGHT

Like some of you, leadership has been a continual growth process for me. It seems that there are some who “get it” from the get-go. However, for me, it’s been a journey. I’ve struggled with resistance from individuals. As a safety professional, the most difficult thing to change in a program is the belief that “we’ve always done it this way,” or “we didn’t budget for that.” In the safety profession, influence is the key to success. The safety profession serves an essential purpose in the work field, but it does not produce a product or generate cash flow.

Consequently, we must be able to influence others to make the right decisions for the right reasons. Success in the safety field is determined through the reduction or elimination of injuries. Ultimately, the worker and their families benefit from our efforts. Over the past several years, three principles have emerged that have helped renew my energy and commitment to influencing those who make the decisions. These principles aren’t new, but I have become more intentional in my implementation. I am deliberate in focusing on each of these principles, and because of such, I have seen significant results.

“Principle-centered people are constantly educated by their experiences.”  – Steven Covey

I want to share these 3 principles with you. I believe that EACH leader should acquaint themselves with these truths to obtain powerful influence.

RIGHT PEOPLE
The first question to ask is “Am I influencing the right people?” Different people need to be influenced by various reasons and circumstances. For instance, does a production employee need to be influenced to purchase a new piece of equipment? No. The focus needs to be on finance and production leadership. However, the production employee does need to be influenced by the need to make appropriate behavior choices. If we are not influencing the right people for our current demand, then our time and effort become lost. The second question is “Do you have the right people on your team?” For leaders, the motto has been that people are your greatest asset, but that saying needs some fine-tuning. It’s not just people; it’s the right people. When you’re bringing someone aboard your leadership team, put forth ample time into the resume/interview process. Develop engaging interview questions and include other team members to ensure the person can become an effective team collaborator and has the right skillset to “fill in the holes.” A leader is only as good as his/her inner circle. These are the people that make the vision a reality. Sometimes organizations put excessive emphasis on the senior leader, when in fact it’s more than just one man.

Moreover, it’s not just whom we bring on, but also whom we hang onto. It’s hard to let an employee go or to tell a team leader that their season has come to an end. Ultimately, do what is best for the team and the overall organization.

Consider whom you are currently trying to influence, are they the right person for your needs? Do you have the right people on board and in the right positions? Focus on influencing the right people and ensure your inner circle consists of qualified, committed individuals and success will be achieved.

WELL-DEFINED MISSION
Second, it is vital to have a well-defined mission. A clear mission keeps us on track to complete critical tasks. You and your team must define a mission that supports your vision. Evaluate all the things you’re doing and make the difficult decision to cut out (even good things) that don’t fit within that defined mission. This pruning process will help you avoid “mission drift” and make your leadership more effective.

UNWAVERING FAITHFULNESS
So finally, when you have the right people and a well-defined mission, go after it with all your heart. Those who are passionate about what they want will be successful. Passion drives us through difficult times. In our ready-made culture, we want immediate results. The reality is that any constant endeavor, a marriage, business, or ministry takes time to build. I remind people that they’re embarking on an adventure that requires an investment of faithfulness. Be committed to putting the time and effort in; day by day, person-by-person, project by project.

undefinedDenis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management He is an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader.  

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture change training, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

If it’s Lonely at The Top, Then Something’s Wrong

 

Executive-Coaching

During a recent executive coaching session, my client and I were engaged in a conversation about leadership when he made the following statement;

“I am passionate about leading my staff, but I don’t feel anyone cares or likes me.” 

It is true many leaders feel lonely. In fact, one of the most common phrases I hear during coaching sessions is: “it’s lonely at the top.”   I disagree with the context of that statement. And so does John Maxwell. In his book, Leadership Gold, John says;

“If you are lonely at the top, then you are doing something wrong.” 

As leaders, we spend our days surrounded by people, so the last thing we expect is to feel alone, but many do. Why? I believe the feeling of loneliness is a not a positional issue, but rather one of personality.

Let me take a few words y from John Maxwell’s book, Leadership Gold to explain. In his book, John says; “If you are leading others and you’re lonely, then you’re not doing it right. Think about it. If you’re all alone, that means nobody is following you. And if nobody is following you, you’re not really leading! What kind of a leader would leave everyone behind and take the journey alone”?  John Maxwell answers that question with;

“a selfish one.”

As leaders, our job is to make people better. To give them the tools and knowledge to achieve their greatest desires.

However, if you’re feeling lonely, it can lead to many things like; poor decision-making, inept problem-solving, frustration, dysfunctional teams, and angry and frustrated employees. Not to mention the internal stress that builds and eventually causes negative behavior and discord between your spouse or significant other and those within your inner circle. Success is nowhere to be found.

There is no doubt that Colin Powell’s statement; “sometimes leadership means pissing people off” is true. Leaders must hold people responsible and accountable for their actions or lack thereof.  This can cause a temporary feeling of isolation or loneliness. Jack and Suzy Welch wrote in a Business Week article: “There’s something about being a boss that incontrovertibly lends itself to isolation. I’ve learned that people dislike people who hold them accountable and will withdraw themselves. I might even say that if you’re feeling some loneliness, you might be on the right track to becoming an effective leader.

I have been there.  I know how lonely it can feel. But my loneliness is base on my desire to have friends, to enjoy conversations and laugh and tell jokes. But leaders must remember; we are not here to make friends, but rather build relationships. When we realize our job is to build relationships, create trust and add value, we’ll do everything we can to connect with those we lead and create an atmosphere of coaching and collaboration. When that occurs, your not lonely, your fully engaged!

How do we eliminate the loneliness at the top and get our leadership focus right?

Here are five principles I lead by to eliminate the loneliness of leadership:

  1. I’m VISIBLE every day. I make a point to talk face to face or through the phone or video chat with EVERY direct report. I also strategically reach out to indirect reports to continue to build those relationships.
  2. I set clear BOUNDARIES with my team. I lead through a philosophy of Ready, Fire Aim. Meaning I empower my team to identify what needs to be done and go do it! We’ll make it perfect as we progress. However, there are boundaries in regards to people, operational interruptions and costs. When setting boundaries, be careful not to shut yourself off from your team.
  3. I INVOLVE my team in the vision and strategic plan. I make it a priority to get people involved in the process of decision-making, problem-solving, communication, and training.  I make sure everyone has input.
  4. I spend a large part of my time COACHING my team. I meet with each direct report weekly and conduct one-on-one coaching session where we continue to set, adjust and create goals and objectives, conduct on-going performance reviews and develop a mentoring relationship using character-based coaching to achieve their desired goals.
  5. I make sure and COLLABORATE with those outside of my direct reports and team. I made it a priority to meet with every department once a month to listen to their concerns and suggestions, as well as to share information.

There is no doubt that being a leader offers extraordinary challenges in connecting, building relationships and creating an atmosphere of trust. However, just because you’re no longer invited to lunch doesn’t mean that you’re a terrible leader.  Don’t take it personally. More importantly, accept it, because the more you try to be liked, the more you’ll compromise your role and lose respect from the team. Remember you are not there to create friendships, but rather build relationships.

happy-leaders

 

You Need to Read This! 10 rules and Etiquette for Crafting and Sending Emails. Part 1 of 3

This is part 1 of 3 emails from my archives. Seems to be a constant need to re-publish these rules.

You’ve been there.  You get an email accusing you of some action or lack thereof. The tone is rude and inappropriate.  The sender includes several people, many who have no reason to be involved. As you read what is written, the words enrage your soul.

You immediately react by hitting “Reply All.”  In fact, you want to vindicate yourself, so you “Bcc” your supervisor. From the depths of your furious burning soul, you unleash a barrage of words that support your position.

Immediately, after hitting the send button, you receive a text from your boss.  Yes!  He wants to congratulate you on an excellent aggressive response!  Only when you open the text, it says “meet me in my office first thing in the morning.”

Emails and texting, perceived in the wrong way, can lessen or eliminate the influence email-logoyou have on your staff or groups. The relationships you spent months or even years to build and foster are now in jeopardy.

Email and texting should never be a substitute for face to face communication or a phone conversation. However, if crafted correctly, these can be useful in reinforcing your ideas and increasing your influence.

In part 1 of my 3 part series, I provide 10 rules and etiquette for crafting and sending emails.

I find these very useful and productive to lessen the chance of responding in a destructive or unprofessional manner.

EMAIL

When preparing or an email consider the following 10 rules:

  1. First, consider a face-to-face or phone call before sending an email. 
  2. Send the email to those that absolutely need to know.  
  3.  “CC” people for information only.  “CC” responses should only be sent if the data reinforce or add additional pertinent information.
  4. Make sure the “subject” accurately depicts the content.
  5. Content must be specifically related to your “TO” group. Be precise, concise, and clear.
  6. Begin the email with a positive statement. Sets the tone for the responses.
  7. Continued disagreement or confusion, set up an in-person meeting, conference call or video chat.
  8. READ IT BEFORE YOU HIT SEND AND THEN READ IT AGAIN. Read and re-read your email.  Make sure your grammar, spelling, and choice of words portray the intended tone and message.
  9. Emails should NEVER be used to reprimand, counsel or address disagreements. Those must be face to face.
  10. When in doubt…….have a face-to-face conversation.

PERSONALITY BASED GOAL SETTING

Our personality impacts everything we do; how we respond to pressure, how we network, socialize, and react when there is an emergency. Our personality is something that we cannot escape. When I reflect upon those who are successful, I see bold individuals who are assured within. They know what they are good at and they maximize upon those strengths. Successful people, regardless of their industry, are always boldly self-aware.

With the beginning of 2019, the New Year provides us with an opportunity to build upon the experiences and lessons learned from the previous year. I don’t believe we ever truly start over, instead; we build upon our achievements and/or the lessons learned from past failures and shortfalls. In retrospect, one of the things I’ve gleaned over the past couple of years is that our personality identifies our strengths and weaknesses. It directly affects our ability to achieve our goals and meet our objectives.

As a DISC Behavioral Consultant, I’ve learned to identify personality types through consultation, and help others develop goals that coincide with their character. In doing so, individuals maximize their opportunity for achievement.

These 3 actions will help individuals streamline their personal goals:

  • Tailor your conversation based on personality traits. This gives you the ability to make adjustments within the discussion to lead the path forward.
  • Generate goals that motivate the person to put in the necessary effort to achieve each one.
  • Identify areas to stretch the individual and achieve things that will take a focused effort.

By successfully implementing these 3 things into the development of goals, I believe we give people the ability to be successful and achieve more than they might expect.

So how do we set goals based upon a person’s personality? To answer this question, I will identify methods that reflect the DISC personality styles in general. I’ll use the behavioral traits and the typical strengths and weaknesses of each personality style. Let’s take a look at how to set goals for each personality style.

Dominant

People with dominant personalities are direct, decisive, problem solvers, risk takers, and self-starters. People with a strong dominant personality are hard-charging, get-it-done kind of people! I identify with this particular personality type. I tend to set very ambitious, lofty goals. However, if I don’t see immediate results, I’ll quickly lose motivation.

People you identify as having a dominant personality need to have goals that meet the following parameters;

  • Identify a few more than required. If you want 3-5 goals, a dominant person will set 7-10.
  • Make the majority of the goals short-term. This serves as motivation to accomplish many things.
  • Set a couple of long-term goals with the expectation to endure until the end.
  • Each goal must be clearly identified and the timeline for completion well established.
  • Establish regular one-on-one follow-ups and progress meetings.

When developing goals for a dominant personality consider the following:

POSITIVE CHARACTERISTICS

  1. Autocratic in teams and will rise to the top in a crisis
  2. Good at providing direction and leadership
  3. High assertiveness
  4. They have a clear idea of their ambitions and goals and will push hard for accomplishment
  5. Function well with heavy workloads
  6. Very competitive attitude
  7. Welcomes new challenges
  8. Tend to follow their own ideas

AREAS FOR GROWTH

  1. LEARN TO LISTEN MORE AND SPEAK LESS
  2. Gather consensus on decisions
  3. Don’t act alone
  4. Learn to answer the question “why” when asked about decisions and proposals
  5. Work on body language and tone of voice when dealing with frustration
  6. Focus on developing sincere personal relationships
  7. Can intimidate others
Influential

People with an influential personality are enthusiastic, trusting, optimistic, persuasive, talkative, impulsive and emotional. They are just pure FUN! They are the life of the party and are typically the ones we talk about after the Christmas party. They love to set goals and dream about the things they want to achieve.

These fun-loving social characters need to have goals that meet the following parameters:

  • Harness their enthusiasm when identifying goals
  • Identify goals that will move the company forward and acknowledge their value
  • Clearly define the steps to achieve each goal and have them focus on each stage before moving onto the next
  • Set smaller goals
  • Identify the timeline for each goal
  • Prioritize each goal for the company and the individual
  • Establish regular one-on-one meetings to verify progress and determine the next steps for successful performance

When developing goals for those with an influencing personality style, consider;

POSITIVE CHARACTERISTICS

  1. Great communicators who are both influential and inspirational
  2. Have the ability to motivate others
  3. Great advocates of change and deal well with change themselves
  4. People are drawn to them, thus creating a great opportunity to lead others
  5. Positive attitude
  6. Great at brainstorming and visionary projects

AREAS FOR GROWTH

  1. Impulsive in decision making
  2. Can be slow to action (a lot of talk, but little action)
  3. Need to exercise control over actions, words, and emotions
  4. Need to talk less and listen more
  5. Tends to over-promise
Steady

The steady personalities are good listeners, team players, possessive, steady and predictable. They are understanding and friendly relationship-based people. Goal setting usually means change is coming, which immediately causes tension for a steady personality—because they don’t like change.

If you see yourself as a person with a steady personality or will be working to set goals with someone described above, consider:

  • Goals that establish step by step directions with a clearly defined plan for achievement
  • Establish the benefit for achieving each goal
  • Needs more time to develop their goals
  • Set timelines for each goal and hold them to it

Consider the following when developing goals for the person with a steady personality:

POSITIVE CHARACTERISTICS

  1. Supportive and natural relationship builders
  2. Grounded in reality and common sense
  3. Talented multi-taskers
  4. Patient
  5. Loyal
  6. Even-tempered
  7. Peacemakers in groups and teams

AREAS FOR GROWTH

  1. Struggles with change and making adjustments
  2. Can be overly agreeable
  3. Tends to put other’s needs before theirs
  4. Need to be more direct in their interactions with others
  5. Their pace tends to be slow, thus causing them to miss deadlines
Compliant

A person with a compliant personality is accurate, analytical, conscientious, careful, precise, meticulous and systematic.  Those with a complaint personality are very focused on procedure and making sure things are done the right way. They don’t have a problem with setting goals, but they do need help prioritizing. A compliant personality wants to accomplish EVERYTHING!

To set effective goals, a person with a compliant personality must consider:

  • Start the process early!
  • Focusing on goals that are important to YOU!
  • Ensure each goal is practical and detailed
  • Create clear, identifiable goals that establish their role within the group, department, and organization
  • Establish data-driven goals that focus on details others may not see
  • Stretch the person by developing one or two visionary goals

As you consider developing goals for the compliant personality, consider the following:

POSITIVE CHARACTERISTICS

  1. Instinctive organizers
  2. Excellent at creating and maintaining systems and processes
  3. Consistent in their approach
  4. Will see projects through until completion
  5. Strive for a diplomatic approach
  6. Strive for a group and team consensus

AREAS FOR GROWTH

  1. Tend to be critical of others
  2. Consider other’s ideas and methods
  3. Need to speed up to help the team or group accomplish their goals
  4. Work on focusing more on building strong relationships
  5. Make faster-informed decisions
  6. Take more risks

Final Thoughts

Each one of us has a unique personality style. Sure, we can put people in “personality” buckets, but that only helps to identify our approach. As leaders, we must know our coworkers and ourselves well enough to understand what motivates them and how they react to different situations. Knowing a person’s personality style can proactively help you and your employees make adjustments. Consider the information presented and strive to achieve your personal best and the best from your employees in 2019!

Denis is an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group, is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior, Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader.  

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, training, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

INFLUENCE, The Key to Effective Behavior Change

Influence is an overused word, but few understand the concept. Many think influence is manipulation, force, and/or intimidation based on their position or status within the organization. That is not influence, that is dictatorial power! Influence is an exchange of ideas, a persuasion of others to a known purpose or direction. Influence is gained through the respect of those who are to be influenced.

But what is influence? I want you to think of influence as salt. Salt is not a flashy spice saltlike cayenne pepper or nutmeg. Salt is merely a basic. And yet, it is essential. Without it, food is bland and tasteless. Without it, decay and rot ensue. In recipes, salt serves all the other ingredients by extracting and enhancing their fullest expression and flavor.

As safety professionals.  You are in a profession whereby your ability to INFLUENCE others will be critical to the protection of life and safety. You must learn to influence like salt; in the background, without being visible or noticeable. It must become a part of your character and how you operate.

Why is influence so crucial in the safety profession? Influence is essential because safety professions typically have no authority and cannot MAKE people do anything. However, to have employees follow the policies and procedures, apply their training and follow directions, and ultimately achieve success, we must learn how to influence.

In fact;

we must learn to influence WITHOUT Authority!!!

Influencer and opinion leaderThroughout my years as a safety professional, I’ve found that there are more opportunities to influence than any other position within an organization. Think about it. Executives are relegated to an office.  Managers and supervisors have assigned areas of responsibility and seldom venture outside of their designated area. They may understand the departmental dynamics, but not necessarily how it affects the rest of the worksite or organization.

YOU, on the other hand, have responsibility for the entire facility, region or area. Much of your workday is spent in the field or on the floor (or at least it should be!). Safety Professionals are expected to have a broad range of knowledge and an array of information concerning the business and are supposed to solve a full spectrum of problems. So think about all the opportunities to influence; practically every conversation, interaction, and the situation will offer a chance to influence.

However, not all safety professionals take the opportunity to influence like salt. No, a lot of us prefer to pour salt on the wound instead. Because we cover or touch all areas and all departments, we often become very familiar with organizational practices, the people and the dynamics of various personalities and relationships. In doing so, we become aware of problems, inefficiencies and identify opportunities for improvement.

This is both good and bad.

On the one hand, you can use this information to analyze the safety needs and influence for change. On the other hand, the Safety Professional tends to be solutions oriented and strives to solve everyone’s problems.

As a consequence, this mindset is often interrupted as “knowing how to do everyone’s job and do it better!” This has the tendency to isolate our position and decrease our influence.  When we do things to decrease our influence, we decrease our ability to lead and ultimately get things accomplished by others. In their book, Influencing without Authority, Cohon and Bradford state “You need to INFLUENCE those in other areas, departments and division’s, those you don’t have control over.”  You must learn to influence without authority.

I want to share with you an example of real influence. While flipping through a TIME timemagazine issue listing the 100 World’s Most Influential People. Two individuals were listed, that I suspect are known to very few. Had influence been determined by a vote, I suspect that most readers would have never picked them. Their names are Brady Gustafson and Mary Scullion.

Brady, just 21 years of age, saved his fellow Marines when they came under direct attack in Afghanistan. Though Brady himself had suffered a life-threatening injury, he fought to save his friends and fellow Marines until help arrived.

Mary works tirelessly with an organization to help the homeless in Philadelphia, stating that “none of us are home until all of us are home.” As a result of her efforts, there are now less than 200 homeless men and women in Philadelphia.

These are real stories of influence. In society, influence generally indicates power over others, the power that inevitably reflects back on the one who is influencing. But for Brady and Mary, influence has very little to do with their own glory.

Indeed their influence is not about making a name for themselves, but rather about lifting up those without names and faces who have no influence or who most of the world will never know; homeless men and women and small-town young men who defend America.

What makes Brady and Mary so influential? I believe it is their behaviors. For Brady, he decided to take a risk to save others, knowing full well the potential outcome. However, his desire to defend and protect others generated a behavior that resulted in the saving of many lives. For Mary, it is having a subtle, but effective method of support to change the way the homeless population behaves.

So how does that relate to the Safety Profession?  When we consider the process of eliminating injuries, one must consider behaviors as the single most crucial aspect of a person working safely. With that as the case, changing or modifying behaviors will reduce or eliminate workplace injuries.

How does one influence change in a person’s work behavior? The answer to this question is simple. You must influence the person to exhibit the right safe behavior because it is the right thing to do. To accomplish this, you must do the following;

  1. Realize your character will be crucial to having influence.
  2. Give encouragement. Start every conversation or interaction with something positive.
  3. Let them know you need them. Make sure you establish their importance in the organization.
  4. Create a memory of the conversation. People will refer back to those memories when they are in similar situations.
  5. Say the right words at the right time. What we say is very important in our influence.
  6. Encourage them to make the right choices and decisions.
  7. Remember, you are there to support and influence them. It’s not about you!
  8. Listen to what is not being said. Make sure you listen to understand before you reply.
  9. Find the key to their motivation. Everyone is motivated differently. You must learn how to motivate in short period of time.
  10. Be the first to help. If there are issues, look for realistic solutions and be helpful in solving problems.
  11. Everything is in a name. Use their name throughout the conversation. Nothing is more influential to a person than referring to them by their name during a discussion.
  12. Encourage them to work safely. Get their personal commitment to exhibit the right safe behaviors.

Our ability to influence others is the core of changing behavior and ultimately eliminating injuries. As Safety Professionals we must focus our efforts on becoming influential through our consistent interactions with all levels of the organization.

19 BASIC PRINCIPLES FOR BUILDING INFLUENCE

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John Maxwell says, “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.”

If leadership is influence, how does one influence? 

One of the best books for teaching practical influence is Dale Carnegie’s, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”  This book provides the reader practical principles that lead to the efficient influencing of others.

I have read this book at least five times and use the information daily to increase my influence and validate my perspective on how I influence others. I wanted to share my version of Dale’s principles.

My principles for influence are:

  1. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain – Instead, try to understand their position and what is causing you to criticize, condemn or complain.
  2. Give honest and sincere appreciation – Freely praise, recognize and appreciate the efforts, and accomplishments of others. People cherish your words and will keep them over a lifetime!
  3. Become genuinely interested in other people – If you want others to respect you, help you help yourself, and partner with you to achieve success, make this principle a part of your character.
  4. Smile – We send messages through our facial expressions. Smiling brightens the lives of all who see it.
  5. What’s in a Name? – Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language. Approaching any situation using a person’s name will reduce negativity, increase your influence and add validity to the words you say.
  6. Be a good listener – Encourage others to talk about themselves. Remember that the people you are talking to are a hundred times more interested in themselves and their wants and problems than they are about you and your problems.
  7. Talk in terms of the other person’s interest – Talking in terms of the other person’s interest keeps them engaged and pays off for both parties.
  8. Make the other person feel important, and be sincere – Talk to people about themselves, and they will listen for hours.
  9. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it – All arguments do is show the arrogance in your pride and a lack of humility.
  10. Show respect for the other person’s opinion – Never say “you’re wrong.” Instead, use diplomacy.
  11. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically – Remember the old proverb, “by fighting you never get enough, but by yielding, you get more than you expected.”
  12. Begin in a friendly way – Remember what Lincoln said: “A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.”Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.
  13. Who cares where the idea came from – Let the other person feel the idea is his or hers. Influence is achieved by teamwork, not arrogance.influence others
  14. Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view – An increased tendency to always think regarding the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as your own.
  15. Challenge the Person -Every successful person wants a chance of self-expression, the opportunity to prove one’s worth.
  16. Begin with praise and honest appreciation – The first 30 seconds of any conversation should include praise, gratitude or thankfulness or general good will. Open every email or correspondence with the same thoughts.
  17. Call attention to peoples mistakes indirectly – Learn how to point out errors and opportunities for improvement by encouraging the person, rather than discouraging them. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
  18. Ask questions, instead of giving direct orders – Information informs, questions transform! All direct orders do is create resistance between the giver and receiver.
  19. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to – Help the other person to succeed. Be aware of their faults and coach them to success.

Apply these 20 principles and begin to see your influence increase and your leadership of others grow.

 

10 Actions To Increase Your Influence With Others

Want to be influential? Do these 10 things.

  1. ENCOURAGE – Start every conversation with something positive about the person or group you are addressing within the first 30 seconds. People are motivated by encouraging words.
  2. UNDERSTAND YOURSELF – When I think about what needs to happen or take place, I reflect on how my actions, my conversations, and my vision will affect others. I’ve realized that my performance is a direct reflection of my leadership.
  3. KNOW WHAT OTHERS GO THROUGH- Understand the trials and troubles others go through by being a part of their day. Good leaders become someone who listens to their people, not to reply, but to understand. Get in tune and know the people you lead and you will increase your influence.
  4. REALIZE EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT – They understand Good Leaders Ask Great Questions (read this book from John Maxwell). The right questions will uncover a person’s interests and what motivates them. I think it is important to connect by finding common ground and nurturing relationships.
  5. HELP OTHERS – I have learned when we are first to offer assistance and aid, we begin connecting in such a way that our relationship allows us to influence. Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
  6. ADD VALUE – Add value by finding out what is important to those you lead. The value will look different in every situation. A good leader will ask great questions to identify what value looks like.
  7. SHARE STORIES AND EXAMPLES – As a speaker, I’ve learned the importance of sharing good relevant stories. As a leader and professional, I’ve recognized the importance and effectiveness of sharing good stories with those I influence. People want to see the human side of leaders. I believe stories create a sense of belonging and connect us through life’s similarities.
  8. NO STRINGS ATTACHED – Christopher Reeve said: “Success is finding satisfaction in giving a little more than you take.” When we give without any strings attached, we will benefit professionally and personally and professionally.
  9. REMEMBER NAMES -Learn the names of those you meet and associate with. Few sounds are as sweet to a person as hearing their spoken name, few sounds are as irritating when you refer to someone by the wrong name. Remembering names, shows you value them.
  10. ACKNOWLEDGE STRENGTHS – I think one of the best ways to gain influence is to recognize a person’s strengths. Areas of their personality or employment that seems to tie them well to the organization. In fact, they will want to “Exceed Expectations,” not just meet them.

InfluenceWe all have influence, big and small. We all have things we are gifted or talented. Things we leverage by adding value to others. Whether it is our attitude, problem-solving skills or simply just our ability to laugh, we should be sharing our knowledge, experience, and influence. Employees respond to influence. We should work hard to increase our influence by adding real value every day. Do this, and you will improve your leadership. You’ve heard it before, “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” People respond to influence. We must work to increase our influence by adding value every day. Do this, and you will increase your leadership. You’ve heard it before, “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.”

We must work to increase our influence by adding value every day. Do this, and you will increase your leadership. To lead others, you must influence! Do these 10 actions regularly, and watch your influence grow!

Trust, The Glue That Bonds Relationships

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” ~Ernest Hemingway

According to Steven Covey, “Trust is the glue of life.  It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication.  It’s the foundational principle that upholds all relationships”. Trust is crucial in the leadership process.  In fact, trust is required for effective leadership.  Trust can be described simply by comparing it to pocket change.  Every right decision puts change in your pocket.  Every poor decision takes change from your pocket.  The key is to increase your pocket change, rather than always paying it out.  Sure we all make mistakes. And each mistake cost us some coins from our pocket.  However, employees are tolerant of mistakes as long as we are transparent, quick to humility and strive to regain their confidence.

In his book, Leadership 101, John Maxwell shares three qualities a leader must exhibit to gain trust; competence, connection and character.  Violate any one of these three qualities, and you will lose the trust of those who follow.  Trust is doing what’s right because it’s right.  Mackey and Sisodia state in their book, Conscious Capitalism; “the right actions undertaken for the right reasons generally lead to good outcomes over time.”  I don’t think anyone can remain a leader if he or she continues to make poor decisions and break the trust of employees.  When we break trust, we damage the relationship. Relationships can be repaired, but with much work and effort.

In fact, a leader can’t be a leader if there is no trust because trust leads to influence.  If people don’t trust you, you can’t have influence.  Without influence, you can’t lead.

Build sincere relationships and out of your sincerity, will come trust. Only then will you be able to influence and achieve effective leadership.

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