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Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t posted on my blog in quite a while.  I won’t go into all the details prompting the lag, but let’s just say that I lost my focus! I enjoy writing and I would like to think that all of my years of experience in human resources, employment law, and training have given me something worthwhile to say.

One never knows the impact or influence of one’s words or actions on other people.  I honestly did not think that anyone would miss my small contribution to the blogosphere.  Recently, a friend asked if I were on hiatus from my blog, and commented that she often shared it with a group of people at work.  I was happy to know that what I write resonates with someone.  But I was surprised to learn that anyone cared if I stopped.

That led me to wonder: what are we doing or failing to do that impacts the lives of others?  The truth is, we simply don’t know.  I didn’t begin this blog thinking of how it would affect anyone else.  I started it as an outlet for my own need to create and write.  That anyone chose to read it was a bonus to me.

My point is this:  You influence the lives of others whether you intend to or not.  People around you are watching what you do — how you treat them and others, what you wear, the choices and decisions you make, how honest you are, or how you react under pressure.     Or the fact that you stopped writing on your blog!

I’m not telling you anything new or novel.  We are all well aware that we don’t exist in a vacuum, and that our daily interactions with others affect them.  On the other hand, we generally don’t walk around weighing the impact of our every move on others.  At work especially, we are more focused on getting the job done than on how what we say or do is being perceived or internalized by anyone else.  Besides, different people will interpret our words and actions in different ways, and we can’t always control the messages we send.

Most of us hope that our influence on others is positive.

John Maxwell, a renowned author on leadership, describes a leader as a person that one would willingly follow.  Leadership is defined as influence or persuasion.  In his book, The 5 Levels of Leadership, Maxwell describes levels of leadership based on how the leader exercises influence.  The lowest level of leadership is positional, in which a person follows the leader only because he has to, because of the leader’s position in the hierarchy.  Think about leaders in your organization.  Do employees fall in line simply because of the leader’s “do as I say,” autocratic style of management?  Leaders who lack leadership credibility or personal influence must rely on their position alone to achieve goals.  They have minimal personal influence on others.

The higher levels of leadership that Maxwell describes are personal, based on behavior and attributes of the leader that make others willing to follow.  Maxwell calls the highest level of leadership the Pinnacle, in which others choose to follow because of who the leader is and what he or she represents.  Think again about the leaders in your organization.  Do they have high leadership credibility and personal influence that compel others to go above and beyond what is necessary to help the leader achieve goals?

Leadership credibility and personal influence develop over time from having – and living — a sound set of core values, from knowing your mission and purpose, and from achieving goals that are aligned with your values and mission.  Leadership influence is also based on strong, interpersonal relationships with others in the organization.

When you live a life that reflects your core values, that focuses on achieving your purpose, that reaches toward fulfillment of your goals, and that honors and values relationships, you need not be concerned about who’s watching you or what influence you are having.

Your influence will take of itself.

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