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.

EXCEED EXPECTATIONS, Your Break From Average

I recently spoke to a group of leaders with the American Society of Safety Engineers at their annual leadership Conference on this very topic.  This conference was a chance for Chapter Officers from around the world to come together and learn how to better serve their memberHand writing Expectations with marker, concept backgrounds.  This was especially significant as I currently serve as President of the Oklahoma City Chapter.  My goal was to encourage and motivate to do more than simply meet member expectations.

Expectations are a part of everything we do in our our personal and professional life.  We all grew up with certain expectations; complete your chores, do your homework, take a bath, brush your teeth, etc.  Parents, teachers, coaches and employers all have certain expectations.  If we meet those expectations, then people are happy.  If we don’t they are unhappy and there is usually an uncomfortable conversation that follows.

Look, expectations are a part of life.  There are just certain things people expect from us and we expect from others. Meeting expectations is what everyone strives for.  But, why be like everyone else?  If you can exceed expectations, you can separate yourself from others and standout from the crowd.

Let me share a story with you.

It was a Friday afternoon and I hadn’t been home in almost two weeks. I was at the airport waiting on a flight to Dallas. It was stormy throughout the western United States, but I was flying from Boston so I didn’t think anything of it.  As I checked the monitor, I noticed my flight had been delayed 45 minutes.  I was annoyed, but that is how it goes sometimes, right?   Well those 45 minutes turned into another 45 minutes, then 3 hrs. NOW, I wasn’t only annoyed but mad! And SO WAS EVERYONE ELSE AT THE GATE!

However, after a few minutes of complaining and multiple very loud sighs, something starting to happen at the gate.  Airline workers started handing out drinks and snacks.   I noticed a slight shift in the mood, including myself.  I could actually hear some laughs and positive comments.

Well, after what seemed like a fairly short time, it was finally time to get on the plane and head south. The mood turned even better when the Flight Attendant announced that we would be receiving free drinks due to the delay. SWEET!!!!!

The plane was buzzing a little louder (I felt like I was on a flight to Las Vegas with a bachelorette party or something) and the mood seemed a lot more cheerful. People seemed happy and the flight went very quickly. Before I knew it we were landing in Dallas.

So let me ask you a question.  Do you think the airline met or exceeded my expectations?

Well of course they EXCEEDED my expectations!  We arrived at our destination safely. And we were given special treatment for the inconvenience.

By the airline becoming situationally aware with the passenger’s disappointment and recognizing the importance of home and family, they wanted to do something to exceed passenger expectations.  Sure they didn’t meet the initial on time expectation, but rather than sitting around dealing with the multiple complaints, they recognized the situation and quickly did what they could to accommodate in whatever way made sense.

As I grow in my personal and professional leadership, I realize everyone wants to meet expectations.  People work very hard to meet expectations and simply getting by.  However, that creates a bottleneck to performance and ultimately slows a person’s promotional and career advancement.

To excel in one’s personal and professional efforts, there must be something which separates them from others.  They must stand out.  Their work and effort must be above others.  It is easy to blend into the crowd and be average.   However, for those who want to advance and achieve something more than average, they must exceed expectations.  Average doesn’t get you into the MLB, NFL or NBA.  It doesn’t get you a job as CEO of a Fortune 500 company.  In fact, average will not get your resume past most employers initial screening and it certainly won’t get you past the initial interview.

So how does someone exceed expectations?  I’m glad you asked that question.  I have some tips and insights that create a mindset to exceed expectations.  These are activities, expectations and insights I personally use when evaluating the expectations others have for me and I have for myself.

Read and reflect on these and put them in context to your specific needs, desires and situation.  I think you will find these useful and effective.

9 Personal Insights about expectations:

  1. I realize disappointment is simply the gap between expectations and reality-Learn to recognize this and take action early to prevent any gaps.
  2. I consistently strive to exceed expectations and impress every time, through everything I do – Regardless of what I gain.
  3. I realize the only person that can raise my standard of expectations is………….ME! Always strive to exceed expectations.
  4. I expect more from myself than others expect from me – I am never satisfied with yesterday!
  5. I realize it is impossible to offer excuses and still exceed expectation – Excuses deteriorate respect and stop you in your tracks!
  6. I realize focusing is the single-most important skill in exceeding expectations.  Learn to focus and learn what it takes to stay focused even when their are distractions.
  7. Did you know only 2% of people consistently exceed expectations–  80% don’t meet expectations.
  8. Meeting expectations is average – If you want to be average, do something else and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
  9. You are never going to be excellent in your weaknesses – No matter how hard you work. Exceed expectations where you know you are good.

10 Thoughts, Tips and Actions that will help you EXCEEED EXPECTATIONS:

  1. Expect more from yourself than anyone else – Integrity begins with you.
  2. Refuse to live off the past – Yesterday ended last night, Get Over It!  However, never be satisfied with yesterday.
  3. Don’t use your relationships to cover your failures or shortcomings “We’re Friends” is abused!
  4. RESPECT must be earned DAILY!!! – Earn respect by doing the difficult right things
  5. Ask for feedback , all the time and after every activity- If you are good, feedback will improve you, if you are bad, feedback will make you better.
  6. I only travel the high road with others – IN BUSINESS IT MIGHT NOT MAKE SENSE, BUT IN LIFE IT MEANS EVERYTHING
  7. I give 100% at key times everyday – What are the events, people that require my best?
  8. I value people too much to not give them my best- Character, People, Perspective, Attitude and Passion Matter
  9. I exceed expectations because I bring people around me who exceed expectations My performance increases as I surround myself with those who exceed expectations.

I heard John Maxwell tell a story about his grandson, Troy. Troy had recently graduated from college and quickly got his first job.   As they were having lunch one day, John asked Troy if he knew how to set himself apart from the rest of the employees. Troy simply shrugged his shoulders.  John said;

“you have to do something quickly to set your self apart from the rest of the employees, otherwise you will just be another employee.”

Here is what John told Troy to do:

  1. You must work harder than everyone else – come in early and stay late. Eat in for lunch most times.
  2. Do something for somebody that is not your job.  Make a point to do something for someone everyday that is not your job.
  3. Make an appointment with your leader (boss) and thank him/her for your job. Express gratitude and humility.

I’d say these three things will exceed everyone’s expectations.Exceeding expectations will set you apart from everyone else. That opens the door for a bright and successful future.

DON’T BE AVERAGE………AVERAGE IS BORING!!!  STRIVE TO EXCEED EXPECTATIONS IN EVERYTHING YOU DO!

Exceed to Succeed Extra Credit Above and Beyond Ruler

EXCEED YOUR INDIVIDUAL GROWTH WITH A MENTOR

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The longer I continue in leadership positions, the more I realize how much I really don’t know. In fact, I’m made aware of this each and everyday. I’ve learned; the more I think I know, the more I don’t know and the more I don’t know, the more I need to know! However, one thing I do know, knowledge needs to be transferred to others.

Everything you learn and receive from others is not yours; you are simply a processor of information and it must be passed on. Whether it’s a recent graduate, a technical person, or an experienced professional, I realize that my job as a leader is to transfer knowledge and experience to them. That’s what drives me.

I rFotosearch_k13876036.jpgeflect upon my parents, youth leaders, pastors, coaches, and career professionals who imparted wisdom, knowledge, and experience to me. Without them, I wouldn’t have known how to navigate through life’s challenges. Mentors have been influential in life, impacting both my marriage and my career. In fact, I can recall an individual whom I still lean upon for guidance in my safety career. He has directed, advised, and even scolded me when needed (unfortunately that’s often). Additionally, he has pointed out when I’ve had ideas of significance or times when my attitude needs an adjustment. Everywhere I turn and in almost every conversation, there seems to be an opportunity to either mentor someone or to be mentored myself. I came across this statement the other day; It’s hard to improve when you have no one to follow but yourself.” To me, this quote reiterates the belief that influence develops through experiences with others.

Identifying the right person to advise you is equally important to what you learn. So, how do you identify and chose a mentor? Below are 10 questions to ask before considering a personal mentor in your own life.

  1. Are they a leader? – John Maxwell concludes, “It takes a leader to know one, show one and grow”If they haven’t experienced it, done it, or taught it, I question whether they are ready to mentor. Identify those who are successful in their professional or personal endeavors. Look for someone who is respected and viewed by others as a leader. When identifying a mentor, seek someone whom you regard highly. You don’t have to aim too though; if you’re pursuing politics…do you need the President of the United States as you mentor?
  1. Are they open and available? – A mentor must be willing and open to share their experiences (the good and the bad) as well as personal insight. After all, mentorship is a transfer of knowledge. Will they be available to meet on a regular basis? Mentorship is best accomplished through face-to-face interactions.
  1. Can I trust them? – Is the person trustworthy? Do they possess integrity, ethics and the same moral compass you desire? Do they have wisdom to make sound decisions and solve problems? It’s through knowledge and experience of seasoned mentors that problems and situations can be resolved in a correct manner. A wise mentor can guide you through a situation with only a few words; this in turn allows growth through your own experience.
  1. Are they transparent, egocentric, or arrogant? – It’s important to note that even mentors make mistakes; however, does that person readily admit his or her shortcomings to you? When identifying mentors, seek those who are willing to share their experiences, even if some are unpleasant.
  1. Do you “buy into” what this person is about?  – Plain and simple, do they influence you in the right way? In other words, you must be of the same mind before allowing your mentor to influence. I know many successful professionals, but for one reason or another, I simply cannot consent to what they say or how things are done. Maybe it’s in the way they treat others or how tasks are accomplished. Don’t chose a mentor based solely upon their accolades, examine the person as a whole.
  1. Do they honor their commitments, have the respect of others, and consistently model excellence? – A mentor must honor their commitments. If they continually cancel appointments or never answer their phone (via voicemails, emails, texts, etc.), then they are not the right fit for you. Search for those whom others respect and speak highly of. In my own experience, I’ve found that if a person honors commitments and is respected by others, then they often model excellence within their own lives.
  1. Are they relationship builders? – Mentorship is a relationship. A mentor must convey the sense that they care about you and your future. If not, then why are they investing? Is it for self gain? I am not speaking of mere friendship, but rather about connection and a relationship where the individual is committed to helping you reach your potential. If there is no relationship, you will feel frustrated and fall short of expectations.
  1. Do they recognize mentorship as a long-term process? – Mentoring someone requires time and effort, as well as consistency. When evaluating potential mentors, ask questions to ensure their long-term commitment. 
  1. Do they raise good questions?  A good mentor will actively listen to you and assess where you stand. They must be creative in asking open-ended questions, further accelerating conversation. Remember, answers satisfy people’s understanding, but questions deepen them.Fotosearch_k1010396.jpg
  1. Are they willing to have those hard, uncomfortable conversations? – A good mentor will hold you accountable for your actions and failures. You need someone who is willing to expose the truth, rather than guard your delicate feelings. Expectations can be attained if you are held accountable.

The right mentor can accelerate your personal and professional development; the wrong mentor can destroy it. Nevertheless, if you are detailed, prudent and purposeful in your evaluation of potential mentors, you can ensure advancement, growth, and success in your life. Someone once said, “you pay for consultants, not mentors” and I believe that this statement is spot-on. If you “purchased” a mentor, then they wouldn’t be truly committed to you. Likewise, you can’t earn a mentor but rather, you earn a mentor’s attention.

Therefore, work hard in all due diligence to identify a mentor in you own life. I hope these 10 questions will serve as a guide on your endeavor and that you will recognize the importance a mentor has upon personal growth. I’ve heard some say, The teacher appears when the student is ready,” but I say the following is true; “The student appears when the teacher is ready.”

 

REALLY, YOU LEAD PEOPLE?

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I read an article the other day that touched on leadership behavior.  It sparked an abundance of memories, thoughts and questions that have rolled around in my head for many years.  Quite frankly it made me look deep inside of my soul and check my heart to ensure my actions and motives line up with my moral convictions.

Look, leaders are people.  In fact, many are good people.  There is a very small percentage of leaders that act and behave poorly.  I feel I’ve probably worked for more than most.  My career has been full of poor leaders.  Heck, there are a lot of my past and present employees that might say the same about me.

The whole reason I began my leadership journey was to do everything I could NOT to make the same mistakes or do the same things I have witnessed or gone through.

Through my experience, I have identified 9 things that define poor leaders.  Here they are;

  1. IT’S ALL ABOUT YOUNo it isn’t!  In fact, we probably don’t About.me_iconcare what you did or where you went.  It is about those you lead.  When every conversation and situation is about you, it limits the interaction and contribution of others.  I’ve had many leaders more concerned about how situations affect them, than the one(s) involved or affected.
  2. HEY BUDDY -Considering those you lead as friends.  Not good. Leadership is about relationships, not friendships.  When friends and buddies don’t perform we tend to “sweep” it under the rug or make excuses, rather than hold them accountable.  This creates descension and frustration with other employees.  Build relationships, not friendships.  I’ve seen many leaders lose credibility over the hiring or advancement of friends or relatives many times.  I am not saying you can’t hire employees from the past or those who supported and assisted you at other jobs.  I was the best man at my Director of EHS’ wedding 29 years ago.  However, I bet he will tell you that he is held to the same accountability level as anyone else.  In fact, I expect more out of him, than most.
  3. HORRIBLE LISTENER blah, blah, blah…….  This leader doesn’t care what you have to say.  They are only concerned with what’s coming out of his mouth.  Their EGO gets in the way.  Hey man, you were given 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason.  You need to listen twice as much as you talk.  Give people a chance to say something.  Who knows, what they have to say might solve the problem.
  4. WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? -Poor communicators can reduce and harm aculture and frustrate employees quickly. Many employees complain about the lack of communication from leadership.  What are my expectations, Fotosearch_k10378786How is the company performing?, Will there be raises or bonuses this year?  As I coach leaders, I encourage them to have weekly or monthly communication meetings.  This is a time where all they do is communicate key information and allow employees an opportunity to ask questions.
  5. DON’T TEXT ME -Technology is great, but technology has created a diminishing environment of face to face communication.  How many times have you received a text or email and interrupted it as negative?  Texting and emails are very difficult to communicate a tone.  A face to face visit is the best way to properly communicate.  I can see your facial expressions and body language and I can react or change my tone or words to ensure effective communication.  If you can’t meet face to face, call them, and don’t leave a voice mail to cover your items.
  6. REALLY?Hear’s a thought……Get both sides of the story before you make a decision.  One of the most frustrating things for employees is when a leader makes decisions based on a one sided conversation.  One of the traits of a leader is to be open and accessible.
    However, that doesn’t mean you base your decisions on the conversations of one individual.  I found many times, my accessibility and openness has allowed individuals to voice their displeasure with a supervisor, rule or practice only to find out in my follow-up conversation the individual was disciplined or held accountable for failure to comply with or follow directions, etc.
  7. THAT WILL NEVER WORKBeing cynical is not a trait of a leader.  In fact, it is totally opposite.  I think cynical leaders feel threatened. They must discount or even put down a person’s ideas because they feel as if they are not a leader if they don’t have Fotosearch_k5253244the answer.  Cynical leaders say; “No, that’s not going to work” or, “I don’t know why we are doing this; this is stupid.”  Look, if something is stupid, then the leader needs to fix it.  If something is not worth doing or is going to create major problems, it’s your responsibility to facilitate other ideas.  Regardless, you must thank and encourage those who offer ideas and opinions, not BELITTLE them!
  8. THAT’S DISGUSTING! Just because you can say it, doesn’t make it right.  Foul language is wrong and unprofessional.   For some reason, leaders feel they have the right to use foul language and tell questionable stories in front of their staff or employees.  I recently had a leader use very disgusting language in reference to a football game. It stunned the group.  No one knew how to react.  I have had several occasions where leaders would use foul language in an email or text.  Regardless of the communication, it is WRONG!  Some have told me, “you have to talk in the language of the industry”. What?  Come on man!!  If that is the case, then we need to clean up the industry!  It doesn’t matter if you are playing, it is your normal language or if you are angry, foul language is wrong, no matter what!  Whether it’s anger, disgust or this is how you talk to your friends, you can’t bring it to the office.
    I can tell if a person has leadership qualities by the way they talk to others.
  9. YOU CROSSED THE LINE!Leaders who compromise their integrity for business or profits are FOOLS!   A lack of integrity from leaders doesn’t just annoy employees, it appalls them. In fact, when a leader shows a lack of integrity, employees become de-motivated.  When a boss breaks or fudges the rules, cheats, lies or indulges in behaviors that reveal a lack of moral principles, he loses respect. images7-220x147 respect, you can’t influence.  If you can’t influence, you can’t lead.  In addition, when a leader lacks integrity, he gives employees permission to do the same.  I’ve seen leaders compromise their integrity and moral values to be validated by others.  I have personally seen this take place and the destruction it causes.  A true leader will never comprise their moral integrity for validations.

Being a leader is about doing the right thing and leading by example. You simply cannot have one standard for yourself and one for everyone else. Treat people the way you would want to be treated.

If some of these sound familiar, then do something to correct them immediately.  The longer you continue the easier it is to continue.

INFLUENTIAL LEADERS ARE EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATORS, 10 Principals to Becoming a Better Communicator

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GREAT LEADERS ARE GREAT COMMUNCIATORS.! I can’t think of any influential leader that is not a good communicator. Think about it. Everyone you respect as a leader can communicate effectively in every situation, good or bad, stressful or easy, big or small. As leaders, the way we approach and talk to people has a direct impact on the outcome. I wanted to write this piece because of my past (and sometimes present) way of approaching people and interacting with them. This is an area I have been working very hard on.

When I think about influence, I think about the initial contact, interaction and then the forthcoming communication1communication. Throughout my career, I have come to realize that influential people and those who have great interactive skills are able to recognize the situation and adjust their approach quickly to enable the most effective outcome.

To become an influential leader, you must learn to anticipate the reaction of people and use the correct tone and inflection to motivate the employee to react and respond appropriately. Remember, leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. So we must develop a communication method that allows for influence.

We all communicate, right? But what is communication? Ask anyone on the street and they will likely include the word, “talking”. Well, communicating definitely includes talking. But, is it simply talking? I define talking as a prearranged group of vowels and consonants expelled with an abundance of hot air to address a particular thought or answer. So I concede that communication does include talking certainly; however, communication must go beyond talking and into connecting.

In John Maxwell’s book, Everyone Communicates, But Few Connect, he discusses communication going way beyond words as revealed through a study conducted by UCLA Professor, Albert Mehrabian. Professor Mehrabian discovered that face-to-face communications could be broken down into three components: words, tone of voice, and body language. What may come as a surprise is that in some situations, what people see us do and the tone we use can far outweigh any words we say whth-33ile trying to communicate. If we can maximize the use of these three components in a conversation then we can become very effective communicators resulting in a positive interaction and greater ability to influence.

How do you become a better communicator and ultimately an Influential Leader? Through my own study and desire to improve, I have come up with 10 principles you can use to improve. Follow these and have greater influence.

  1. Know Who You are Talking To or Dealing With – Leaders who communicate effectively realize they are responsible for their reactions and are very careful to create a non-threatening atmosphere. They always seem to be in control of a conversation, but not over-powering. They don’t worry about sounding important, having power or being the “expert.” Instead, they think about what needs to be addressed and ultimately what needs to be said. They are thoughtful about how they can deliver this message so that people will be able to hear it.  Leaders communicate expectations and tell people what’s important for them to know, even if it’s negative.
  2. Evaluate Body Language – Influential Leaders constantly track people’s reactions to their message. You must recognize the changes in body language including facial expressions, body stances, etc. Is the person facing you, looking down or rolling his/her eyes? Body language is feedback. Many times, this is the only feedback you will get. Learn to read body language and you can tailor your message to adjust the way we interact as needed.
  3. Be Honest and Factual – People who are influential leaders are honest in their communication. They don’t stretch or exaggerate the circumstances. They certainly don’t lie to make their point or look good to others. They are transparent people that admit if they don’t have all the facts or can’t share information.   They don’t use the politician method of creating circular answers that never address the issue. Influential leaders understand that lies and half-truths create dissention, distrust and anxiety.
  4. Be Who You Are Regardless of the Situation- Don’t be someone you’re not! People will find out the real you. Position or prestige doesn’t change who you are. Look at professional athletes. They become rich and famous, but they are who they are regardless of the amount of money they have or how many highlight reels they make. There’s a reason Mark Zuckerberg presented Facebook to investors in a hoodie and jeans. This is who he is and he knows the value of staying true to who he is. People will be open and allow you to influence if they believe you are who you and nothing more.
  5. Speak With Authority and Conviction – If you believe it, then say it! Don’t use words that you can’t say or don’t know the meaning of. President George W. Bush was the master of making up words. This often watered down or moved the focus from his points. However, he often spoke with authority and conviction giving credibility to his thoughts and desires. Influential Leaders speak directly to and with authority in the things they are passionate about and are clear on their desires and intended outcomes.
  6. Speak to Groups as Individuals – Leaders rarely have the luxury of speaking to one person at a time. Whether they’re addressing a toolbox topic or conducting a keynote with 5,000 people, influential leaders know how to work the crowd or group and make every single person feel as if he or she is being spoken to directly.
  7. Use Your Ears for More Than Hanging Glasses – Influential leaders realize that listening is far more than hearing. They understand that we listen not to reply, but to understand. When someone else is speaking, great communicators aren’t thinking ahead and planning what they’ll say next. Instead, they’re actively listening, fully focused on understanding the other person’s perspective. Leaders must listen to employees and seek to understand their concerns, hesitations and struggles.
  8. Be Humble – Influential leaders are not afraid to use phrases such as; “It’s My Fault,” “I Was Wrong,” and “I’m Sorry”. Humble leaders admit mistakes right away and are not driven by drama or false humility.
  9. Ask for Feedback – Influential leaders are always looking for ways to improve their communication and interaction. They are not afraid to ask how they can become better and more effective. They realize we see and hear our actions and words based on our intent, while others see and hear through our actual actions and words. If you are good, asking for feedback will make you better. If you are bad, it will improve you.   Either way, you will become better at communicating and interacting.
  10. Be Proactive, Not Reactive – Influential Leaders are proactive in responding to situations and rumors by being open and transparent in their communications. They are very clear in their directions and expectations and are always providing necessary feedback to ensure people don’t waste their time on things that don’t matter.

InfluenceAs I stated at the beginning, “Influential Leaders must become effective communicators. You will stand out and people will be drawn to you. Is it because of your effective influence or your destructive influence? When you implement these 10 principles, you become a better communicator with greater influence.