Often when people think of leadership, they think of being the boss and telling people what to do. Leadership, however, is not a title or position. Leadership is Influence. The more influence you have, the more effective you will be, and the more people will view you as a leader.
When you embrace leadership as influence, you realize that leading is not just a boss to subordinate relationship. Developing influence is a 360-degree activity. If you desire to be effective in your work and life, you must build influence with your boss, peers, and subordinates.
You have probably been on a team or in an organization where the last thing you wanted to do was listen to or ask for anything from our peer group (other managers or teammates). Many of us have learned that having influence with your peers can be a game-changer when it comes to collaboration, getting things done, and delivering remarkable results.
Where We Go Wrong
A problem many people have when it comes to leading across is assuming that since my peers and I are all equals in title, we are equal in influence. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is a big difference between your peers HAVING to work with you and your peers WANTING to work with you. The difference is your level of influence with them, and that must be earned.
Competing or Completing?
It is only natural for peers in an organization to feel the pull of competition. You may be competing for attention, recognition, or promotion. When this happens, trust can erode, and silos can form. Instead, what if you took an intentional approach to complete your fellow teammates instead of competing with them? What if you took all your peer relationships to the Leadership Loop?
The Leadership Loop
The Leadership Loop is a 7-step process to increase your influence with your peer group intentionally. It raises your awareness of the incremental steps of developing trust and provides a game plan for what to do next. The 7-steps are:
- Caring – I take an interest in a person
- Learning – I take the time to get to know this person
- Appreciating – I come to genuinely appreciate and respect this person for their unique skills and experiences
- Contributing – I add value to this person by contributing to their growth and development
- Verbalizing – I verbalize affirmations of this person to help them believe in themselves
- Leading – by practicing the first five steps, I have earned the opportunity to influence this person.
- Succeeding – By practicing all these steps, I influence and lead this person in a way that allows us to WIN TOGETHER.
These first three of the 7-steps speak to how you see others. You cannot develop influence with someone if you don’t have an interest in them. The next two steps (4 & 5) are where others become better because of you. This can become a bottleneck for many of us because it requires intentional action to add value to a peer. The final two steps (6 & 7) are where you have the greatest influence.
Influence is Earned
Moving people from HAVING to work with you to WANTING to work with you requires them to give you permission to influence them. You can’t make someone be influenced by you; they have to give permission. That’s why when you practice the 7-step process, you earn the opportunity to influence.
Think about your peer group and evaluate where you are on the Leadership Loop with each person. Identify if you have any bottlenecks (places where you easily get to with most people but have trouble going to the next step). If you want to take your influence to the next level, you need to know what step is slowing you down and what you can do to overcome it.
Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with the John Maxwell Company’s Corporate Solutions Group as well as a published author. He has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.