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It's often said that there can be no leadership without influence. But what does this mean, and how can we apply it in a practical way? Leaders wear many hats, but their most important job is to influence others towards a shared vision.
Accomplishing a goal requires leadership. But is leadership the same as managing? Managers have to be leaders as well, but there's an important difference. To manage is to conduct a team's processes through the organized delegation and assignment of tasks. This also means managing individual performance, and doing this requires remembering that each individual is a person, not a part of a machine. This is why it's not enough to just manage or rely on asserting authority. To successfully accomplish a goal, one must know how to lead.
To be a leader requires a different approach, one that is more about social influence and values. Clarifying your values will help not only in decision making and remaining consistent, but sharing these values will ensure that others understand where you're coming from. Understanding cultivates support, and a team that supports one another is a team that thrives. A good place to start is to get the team together and discuss shared values and visions. Everyone has a different set of values, but generally, most people prioritize trust and respect in the work environment. A sense of community will help everyone feel more connected as they work together. A way to strengthen the foundation of these values is to run through potential challenges together. Identifying obstacles and strategies for overcoming them is a powerful way to ensure that everyone feels safe and stable no matter what happens.
A leader also mobilizes its team through inspiration, through a common goal for the future. People generally want to work for an organization that stands for something they truly believe in. By guiding a visualization of what they can create, a team can be motivated to work together. Good leaders have the ability to give their team, and each individual, a sense of purpose. This is what energizes someone at their core, to know that their dreams are possible.
It's not all just about pumping people up. It's about modeling the kind of behavior, even the kind of positive thinking, that helps to encourage thinking outside of the box. To give someone courage in the face of problems is an invaluable part of being an influential leader. Your team looks to you for guidance, so set good examples. It's not all about what you say, but what you do. On top of that, a rewards system can have a huge impact. Share and celebrate the accomplishments of individuals on your team to inspire others to keep working hard and following the drive to succeed.
Remember, leaders are not just leaders because they have authority and the final say. At their core, they are role models, mentors, and teachers. They're someone each member of the team can learn from, no matter where they come from in life, and even long after the leader is gone.