"There is no power on earth that can neutralize the influence of a high, simple, and useful life."
--- Booker T. Washington
It is seldom that we think about the influence our actions might have on other people, other businesses, or other important issues. But, we in fact have more influence than we might think --- especially as a leader in your business.
As soon as you make a stand for something, whether it is writing your mission or vision statements, discussing your value system to someone, or preaching honesty and integrity to your team members, people will watch your every move. They are watching to see if you will walk what you verbalize.
"He is greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own."
--- Henry Ward Beecher
Dr. John Maxwell says that leaders are like locomotives in that they're blessed with drive, energy, and vision. However, until leaders learn the art of connection, their influence remains minimal. In isolation, their talents accomplish little, and their efforts are squandered. He states that in order to influence people, we need to connect with them first.
Dr. Maxwell lists eight steps to connecting with people including not taking people for granted, searching for common ground, recognize and respect differences, and communicating from the heart.
"Into the hands of every individual is given a marvelous power for good or evil - the silent, unconscious, unseen influence of his life. This is simply the constant radiation of what man really is, not what he pretends to be."
---- William George Jordan
"The weak leaders," states Dr. Maxwell, "get so caught up in the vision of where they're going that they forget whom they're trying to lead. Instead, leaders would be wise to realize that connecting to people and developing them are the surest ways to gain influence. Results happen through relationships."
When searching for common ground, Maxwell suggests that if you're attentive to the hobbies, histories, and habits of those you lead, then you will find ample areas of common ground. Launch out from these areas of agreement to build rapport.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
---- Margaret Mead
Recognizing and respecting differences begins with the acknowledgement that we are all different. Sounds like a given, I know, but we need to be reminded. The greatest influencers realize that differences ought to complement rather than clash. When you demonstrate regard for diverse personalities and meet people on their terms, they will appreciate your sensitivity and connect with the understanding you've shown.
"Your ability to negotiate, communicate, influence, and persuade others to do things is absolutely indispensable to everything you accomplish in life. The most effective men and women in every area are those who can quite competently organize the cooperation and assistance of other people toward the accomplishment of important goals and objectives."
--- Brian Tracy
Finally, we know that good communication is imperative to running a business, but it must be real. Dr. Maxwell says that nothing repels people like a phony leader. Be authentic when you speak, and align your actions and words. People respond to passion, and they will latch onto a vision when it's communicated directly from the heart.
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Sign at Daytona Beach:
"The shark prevention net was dismantled for maintenance on November 1st. We apologize for any inconvenience caused"
Outside of a craft shop in Illinois:
"Notice to all shoplifters: Please help us by stealing only the crap we cannot sell"
On an auto shop in Maine:
"Our motto is to give our customers the lowest possible prices and workmanship!"
We know those funny signs are out there. Take a moment and send them in to us and we'll share them with the world. Send all hysterical observations to: firstname.lastname@example.org.