I’ve been thinking a lot about influence lately and about how our everyday, small behaviors and attitudes impact those around us. Eleanor Roosevelt, possibly the most dynamic First Lady in our history, writes that “The influence you exert is through your own life, and what you’ve become yourself.”
This is true both in our home lives and in our work lives, in our spiritual lives and in our mundane lives. When we awake in a bad or a good mood our husbands or wives, our children, are influenced by how we feel. Even my pets, I’ve noticed, pick up on the little signals I give off. Those around us influence us in return, their own signals effecting small changes in our reactions, our thoughts, our feelings.
As leaders we obviously exert influence on those we lead, but how we influence those people is up to us. We can pressure, insist, demand and force. We can coax, cajole, persuade and convince. Certainly there are times when any of these approaches may be needed, but our approach, our preferred behavior, will have a long-lasting effect on those people. We should never forget that the way we influence them will impact the way they influence others when some of them, too, become leaders in their own right.
How do we consciously influence others to be good influencers? How do we teach negotiation, compromise and consensus through our influence? There are scores of books on the subject, from “How to Win Friends and Influence People” to “The Art of Woo.” How do we pick and choose not only what works, but what will work for others who learn from us? What tenets do you subscribe to? I’m interested in hearing what you think.