Trade wars, evolving expectations of new entrants into the workforce, increasing global competition, political instability, and technological advancements are just some of the reasons that organisations all over the world are experiencing phenomenal change. Although this triggers lots of discussions at senior management level about strategy, organisational structure, risk management, diversification, and digital transformation, it’s not creating enough of a focus on a fundamental question – What is the best way to lead? Or, to be even more specific, what is the best way to lead others so that you win their hearts and minds and unleash the best of their productivity, motivation and engagement as you navigate global and organisational challenges? The answer is surprisingly simple. The answer is … influence. In his book, Chasing Daylight, Erwin McManus has this to say about influence:
“Influence is about winning the heart and soul of another person through the strength of your own character. Influence flows through relationships. Influence can do what command can never do. Influence is born out of who a person who is. Influence is rooted in character.” Perhaps the reason so many leaders prefer to rely on their power, authority, or intelligence as the foundation of their leadership, rather than rely on the strength of their character, is that they’re afraid they will have very little influence otherwise. And yet, the sort of leadership that wins hearts and minds, the sort of leadership that brings out the best in those around us, the sort of leadership that increases engagement and productivity isn’t power, authority, or intelligence-based leadership, but character-based leadership. The best leaders – the truly effective, inspirational and transformational leaders – have learnt the secret of effective influence – it begins with oneself and not with others. If you want to lead in a way that stands the test of time and really makes a difference, then you need to focus on your influence and remember that influence has everything to do with your character.
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