Leadership is influence, and author Brian Tracy suggests there are 10 character traits that all influential people exhibit. From Brian Tracy’s book, “The 10 Qualities of Influential People.”
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Perry Holley: Welcome to The Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast, where our goal is to help you increase your reputation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others and increase your ability to fully engage your team to deliver remarkable results. I am Perry Holley at Maxwell Leadership, facilitator and coach.
Chris Goede: And I’m Chris Goede executive vice president with Maxwell Leadership. Welcome, and thank you for joining. If you want to learn more about The 5 Levels of Leadership, which is kind of the foundation of our leadership philosophy, and/or even just another piece, 360 Leader, which you just finished writing a coaching guide on that, around that content piece. We want to encourage you to visit maxwellleadership.com/podcast. You can also fill out a form, leave a question that you may have for us, or even just a topic that you’d like to kind of have us banter back and forth. That’s some of our most enjoyable podcast, is when you give us something to think about, and then we’re able to kind of and dig and figure out how do we apply that to what we’re talking about in regards to leadership? Well, today’s topic is titled Character Traits of High Influence Leaders.
Perry Holley: Yes.
Chris Goede: Here at the Maxwell Leadership, we define leadership as influence and how you develop others and how you develop that in others with influence. The dictionary tells us that influence is the capacity to have an effect on the character development or behavior of someone or something. And man, when we talk about influence, this is just really our DNA. And even I think back to a couple of the laws in John’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, where we talk about the Law of The Lid, The Law of Buy-in, Law of Influence is actually in there. And so, I see the question you’re posing today is, what are the character traits of highly influential people?
Perry Holley: Yeah, so we do teach, like you said, influence, leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. And there are five levels of influence. That’s The 5 Levels of Leadership. The next question you really have to ask yourself is, how do I get influence and how do I keep influence with others? And I love that definition that you read there that really, I have an effect. If I’m an influential person I can affect someone’s character and it’s huge to me. I was researching… I’m working on a keynote right now for one of our clients. And I ran across some teaching that Brian Tracy had done some years ago. And I thought really it fits so nicely into what we talked about. Might help clarify some of our thinking around what are the characteristics of high influential people. There are, I think there are 10 of them, so let’s get moving on those right away, so we don’t drag this out. But the first thing Brian Tracy recommended was that, you notice about influential people, is that they’re goal oriented. Do you notice that?
Chris Goede: I do notice that. I think there’s two things around that, that come to mind, is there’s definitely they’re setting those goals and a leader without goals, or even what I would call direction and understanding exactly what they want and writing it down, sometimes can be a little bit wishy washy, a little bit dangerous, but we’re going to talk about this in just a minute, but I also think not only do they have to be goals, but really growth. I interchange those two words.
Perry Holley: Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s good.
Chris Goede: I think in our DNA here, it’s more big about growth over goals, but you have to have both. And so I just wanted to address that as we were talking about that right there, because we’re going to talk about it again here in just a minute, but I don’t think I have been positively influenced by someone who didn’t know where they were going.
Perry Holley: Right.
Chris Goede: That would frustrate me, if I didn’t follow someone that had that goal orientation behind where we were going and what we were doing. So I do agree with that. Number two, people of influence have integrity. Integrity is probably the most important quality for success. Not only in business, but just in our everyday life.
Perry Holley: Well, it’s so much of your success in life is based on relationships. And I think all of leadership is based on relationships and relationships are built on trust and trust, really that integrity that you have. If there’s no trust, then there’s no relationship. I just think integrity is everything and you think, are you influenced by people that don’t have integrity, that you don’t know. You actually, you back away from them. It’s not something you want to be a part of.
Chris Goede: Yeah.
Perry Holley: Number three, influential people always notice have a great attitude. Researchers have found the common quality of influential and successful people was extreme optimism. You combine that with the goal and growth orientation that you mentioned earlier. I think it makes for a good combination. And so I was writing this, I was traveling a bit, we’ve been doing a lot of work around the country. So I’ve been on planes a lot and really looking at whether people, if you can notice attitude. Can you see an attitude when you encounter people, does that project? Can you tell what the attitude? What’s your thought on that?
Chris Goede: 100%. If you’ve been in an airport lately on an airplane, even without being able to see their smile or not smile.
Perry Holley: Deliberately, you imagine you waiting for me to ask the question.
Chris Goede: Oh man. Like I was like, yeah. I was thinking about situations, even just last week. And so, I love this right. One of the first books I ever had, my kids read of John’s, was around attitude, because to your point, it is your choice, but it’s also something that can repel people in a hurry. And depending on how you carry yourself and what that looks like. And we’ve talked about this in previous episodes, where you’re always making people feel something-
Perry Holley: Just thinking that-
Chris Goede: Right. You make them feel something. And so, you control what you can control and that does fall into the lap of your attitude. Things are not easy. That’s not what we’re saying. And life’s not easy. Business is not easy, but you can control your attitude. And I think that does drive influence. Number four, influential people are sincere. They’re always telling the truth, but they’re also polite about it. It’s funny adding that in there, because I’ve had plenty of people tell me the truth, but weren’t polite and how they were telling me the truth about it. And this is something that we talk a lot about here is around authenticity. We believe authenticity is a trust accelerator. We believe trust is a currency to influence and [to 00:06:58] leadership. And so that comes from the root of being sincere.
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Perry Holley: Yeah. I think it also has a lot to do with you, making people feel your warmth and trust, or two different words I think of that when you sincere people that, it’s comfortable to be around. Like you said, they’re authentic, they’re real, there’s no pretense. It’s somebody that does influence you, because of just the way it feels to be in their presence. Number five, influential people are well informed-
Chris Goede: Yeah.
Perry Holley: I’ve noticed. And Brian Tracy pointed this out, but not just about their specific areas of interest, but overall in general, they seem to know things. And I guess, what I’ve learned personally, and though you’re a big fan of this too, if we’re not continually reading and keeping informed, we’re not really staying even, we’re falling behind. So that, we profess doing something small every day to keep yourself informed.
Chris Goede: I love this comment. This is where I was talking about just a minute ago, about from a growth standpoint, not only goals oriented, but very growth oriented. And I love the comment here where you mentioned the fact that they are knowledgeable about what’s going on around them. One of our team members, a very influential guy in my life used to challenge me and say, “Hey, what do you absorbing? What are you learning? What are you growing outside of leadership, outside of a big sports guy, outside of sports?” Like what perspective-
Perry Holley: Perspectives outside of sports?
Chris Goede: Yeah. “What perspectives, what mindset, what industries?” And he really challenged me to begin learning and growing and being informed, not in the [weeds 00:08:40], not in the details, but from a high level, having that growth mindset around being informed about things that [crosstalk 00:08:47]-
Perry Holley: Do you ever practice? How do you do that?
Chris Goede: Yeah. So I actually subscribe to a newsletter to where I get it in my inbox every day. And he introduced me to it and it gives me all kinds of different industries, different thoughts, what’s going on. Some of it, it’s relevant to the news. Some of it, it’s relevant to business and industries. I read one over the weekend about even just around inflation and about how we will continue to drive inflation and what that looks like by how we act. And it just changed my mind around it. And so I don’t get to them every day, but they do show up in my inbox and sometimes I have to delete them after they stack up. But I try my best just to skim that, read that and be aware of that. And it allows me just to going to be well informed on different things.
Perry Holley: Fantastic.
Chris Goede: Yeah. So number six, influential people are well prepared and preparation is everything. I think the most successful people in every field are thoroughly prepared and have had spent time thinking through things. I’ll give you a little rule of thumb. If you have mean the opportunity to meet with your leaders, or to meet with other people, or to prepare for a keynote or for meetings, I would challenge you if that meeting with your leader is an hour, that you should spend three to four X that in preparation for that meeting. I know you do that. When you get ready to speak, or you get keynote, or you’re facilitating. So preparation is key. And again, I go back to, I have not been positively influenced by people that are not prepared.
Perry Holley: I was just thinking the same thing, is that you want to erode influence in a quick hurry. Don’t be prepared when people expect you to be prepared.
Chris Goede: Yeah. That’s right.
Perry Holley: And we teach a little about public speaking and we teach a lot of facilitation and part of our coaching. But the one thing I hear from people that come back from a keynote, or given a talk, you say, “How’d it go?” “Well, wasn’t that great?” “Well, what did you learn?” [inaudible 00:10:52]. “I didn’t prepare the way I should have. I thought I did enough, but I didn’t.” So being prepared is a great in indicator of someone that’s going to be influential. Number seven, that influential people love people. I had not considered this. I thought it’s almost a… It feeds a curiosity. If you love people, if you’re interested in people…
I’m reminded of a Dale Carnegie quote, that said, “You can gain more for friends in two weeks of being interested in others, then you can in two years of trying to get people interested in you.” And so are you interested or trying to be interesting? And I love that idea that John said, that people won’t go along with you, if they can’t get along with you. Are you the kind of person that generates, that shows that you love others and that you are interested in other people?
Chris Goede: Is this a question? Are you asking me if I love my people?
Perry Holley: Yeah.
Chris Goede: No, I do.
Perry Holley: Just an intervention.
Chris Goede: I do. It’s an intervention. The team actually got a hold of Perry. No, I think this goes back to-
Perry Holley: You said love my people. I don’t even like my people.
Chris Goede: That’s right. That’s right. One of our thought leaders that joined the team, Joel [Manby 00:12:02] talks a lot about this and actually has led both in the nonprofit, in the for-profit and the private and the public sector by leading from the word love. And we talked about it and gave you a little bit of a intro to it about how love is. We’re really talking about the action, the verb of it, not the feeling. And so, where are you leading with patience? Are you leading with kindness? Are you leading with humility and selflessness? That’s what we’re talking about when it comes to the love.
Perry Holley: Well, Brian Tracy, even further on this, he suggested, listen, listen, listen, listen, if you want to show value to another person and we stop talking and we start listening, when they stop talking, you say, “And what happened next? And what did you do next? Or tell me more.” I love these ideas about people will open a door, because you’re not trying to impress them, you’re allowing them to impress you. And it just opens doors to influence and connection with people that it’s almost unexplainable to say, people have actually accused me of being a great communicator, or my wife said, “What did you do?” I go, “I asked three questions. They did all the talking.”
Chris Goede: Yeah.
Perry Holley: I thought, man, it’s amazing.
Chris Goede: It reminds me of when we’re with leadership teams or groups and we’re doing some consulting work, we’ll oftentimes play a little game we call this or that. And we say, “Hey, as a leader, is it better to be a good communicator or a good listener?” And you get the room and it’s just a fascinating conversation, right?
Perry Holley: Yeah.
Chris Goede: Because now, we have some that go, “Oh, well, listening and mis-communicating,” and it is. It’s a two way pathway, but I say you can’t use the other answer in the answer that you chose. You got to keep listening and it’s just fun to have the team really talk about that, because you do have to have both. And it’s a trick question, I tell them up front, “Don’t get mad at me. Don’t throw anything at me.”
It’s definitely a trick question. Well, number eight, influential people are great communicators, which is what made me just think about this. And I think you have to have both of them, but I think that both of them are equally important. And I think in order for you to be influential, you need to understand that, whether you are meeting with your team one on one, whether you are addressing the team as a whole or the entire company, people are influenced by how you communicate. And again, I go back to, I feel like I’m going to the negative side of this, but I think back to, I have worked with individuals that have no not been able to communicate in a one-on-one setting or in a team setting. And it’s hard for them to increase their influence with me without being able to do that.
Perry Holley: Right. And we talk a lot about, and we’re especially in five levels about your personality, your temperament, and how you, if you’re more analytical versus, you and I are more outgoing, we have more extroversion. We communicate more easily. Others might be more introverted and more quiet, more reserved. They don’t communicate so easily, but people are influenced by the way you communicate. And not that you not by quantity, but that you are clear, that you’re concise, that you-
Chris Goede: That’s right.
Perry Holley: Make sense, that you listen, that you ask questions that the whole package of communication is how you’re perceived a lot of times. And your influence will go up as you’re perceived as this person that communicates very fluidly.
Chris Goede: Yes. We’re not talking about motivation and halftime speeches and to your points around the clarity and being fluid with it.
Perry Holley: All right. Number nine, influential people are well mannered. Thought this was interesting that it just opens doors for you. And you could probably, we could banter back and forth about what are good manners and bad manners in leadership, but it really comes down to how you treat others. And I’m thinking poorly mannered people are generally self-absorbed and looking at themselves. Well, mannered people think about the effects on others. They’re others oriented. So I’m thinking, when we’re teaching our kids manners at the table, isn’t for their benefit, it’s for the benefit of others.
Chris Goede: Yeah.
Perry Holley: It really is how you participate with others and how you manage yourself. It’s not about you, it’s about them and that drives influence.
Chris Goede: Yeah. Well, the last one is number 10, influential people persevere in the face of difficulty. And man, this is about resilience. This is about consistency. This is about getting in the bunker with each other, no matter what the situation or the problem is that we’re trying to solve and facing it head on. And I think those qualities show up in very successful people and will help you with not only problems inside the business, but problems in your life and how you respond to them.
So well, as we wrap up, let me just re-list these for you. We gave you a bunch of them and so they’re in the show notes. If you’re want to download those, you can be able to do that. But the 10 qualities of influential people are as follows. Number one; goals, number two; integrity, number three; attitude, number four; seniority, number five; being well informed, number six; preparation, number seven; loving people, number eight; communication, number nine; good manners, and number 10; perseverance.
According to Daniel Goldman, your EQ, emotional intelligence is your ability to persuade, influence, negotiate, communicate, and move people to do or not to do things accounts for, this is crazy, 85% of your success. 85% is tied to your ability to understand not only these 10, but the overall emotional intelligence of leading people.
Perry Holley: Yeah. You can undermine your influence in a quick hurry by avoiding these. They seem common sense. I must be doing them, but I think that’s worth looking at, and I appreciate you wrapping that up and thank you to Brian Tracy, for the great insights on that. I enjoyed learning that as I was prepping. And if you’d like to, Chris, mentioned the learner guide is available on our website, as well as information about our offerings and places for you to leave a question or a comment if you choose to do so. You can do all of that at maxwellleadership.com/podcast. We’re so grateful that you would spend time with us doing this. And we look forward to having back the next time. That’s all today, The Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast.
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