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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

How To Become a Leader of Influence

Dr. John C. Maxwell stated, "The true measure of leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less." I would be remiss if I did not say, John C. Maxwell is my favorite leadership expert and role model.

Having served over 20 years in the United States Air Force (USAF) as a military officer, it is natural for me to continue learning everything I can about leadership. More important than understanding leadership is to learn leadership is influencing, nothing more, nothing less.

If you think you have learned everything there is to learn about leadership, wait until you finish reading this article. The reason why it is important to learn leadership is inlfuencing is because you will position yourself to become a more effective leader professionally and personally.

Before learning why leadership is influencing, it is important to understand what leadership and influence is. Leadership is defined as the capacity to lead, likewise influence is defined as the ability to get people to do something without force or exertion.

The three (3) key points I will cover is:

1.) There are no born leaders.

2) Distinguish the difference between a positional leader and a true leader.

3.) Developing other leaders

First and foremost, leadership expert Walter Bennis states, "The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born, that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have charisma or they do not. That is nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born."

Walter Bennis is correct, leaders are developed rather than born. For example, people assume a corporate president or star athlete is a born leader, the fact of the matter these people have developed their leadership skills over the years.

So how do you become a leader of influence? You can become a leader of influence by becoming a lifelong learner. One can develop themselves as a leader by reading about, then modeling other leaders.

Attending seminars, viewing and listening to dvd's and proactively participating in leadership conferences will develop you into a thought leader. Remember this statement, if it is to be, it is up to me when it comes to living out loud as a leader.

In order to be able to distinguish yourself as a leader of influence, it is important to be able to distinguish the difference between a positional leader and a true leader. Why is this important?

Once you can distinguish the difference between a positional leader and a true leader, you will be able to recognize who is leading the people. An example consists of a CEO who has the title (positional), however his sphere of influence is limited to other positional leaders.

On the other hand, the human resources manager is an action officer. In other words, the human resources manager must work with internal and external organizations and the people that can help improve their organization's bottom line. The human resources manager is the true leader because he or she has influence throughout the organization and has the questions and answers the CEO needs to be effective in his position.

The next time you are in a meeting, distinguish between the positional leader and true leader. If you can clearly distinguish between the positional leader and the true leader, you should seek to become a true leader.

Last but certainly not least, the first priority leaders have is developing other leaders. Why?

Leaders who develop other leaders experience an incredible multiplication effect in their organization that can be achieved in no other way, not by increasing resources, reducing costs, increasing profit margins, analyzing systems, or implementing quality managerial systems or doing anything else.

A good example of leaders developing other leaders is Earl Woods, father of Tiger Woods. Earl Woods was a great father, husband, coach, mentor and role model for his son Tiger.

Earl Woods was more concerned about Tiger being a good son and human being more so than him being a great professional golfer. Prior to his death, Earl Woods was a retired military officer who loved the game of golf.

It was not unusual for Earl to take Tiger to play golf at military post and bases. By exposing Tiger to the military, Earl Woods was helping Tiger to understand the commitment soldiers were making to their country.

In July 2007, Tiger hosted his first golf tournament, the AT & T National in Bethesda, Maryland and dedicated the tournament to military personnel and their family. An interviewer asked Tiger why he dedicated the tournament to the military, Tiger responded by saying, "His tournament was a small thank you for the sacrifices our military makes in support of our country. He said if he had not become a professional golfer he would have joined the military."

Developing other leaders is crucial to improving your organization's bottom line, take it from Earl Woods, developing other leaders should be a priority for you.

Become a leader of influence and I guarantee you will lead the organization you work for and maximize your human potential. What are you waiting on, get started today. If you have questions about this article, please contact me, I will be glad to discuss it further.

Paul Lawrence Vann is a motivationall speaker and author of the book, Living on Higher Ground. He leads Fortune 500 companies, associations, government agencies, and eudcational institutions to achieve higher levels of excellence through his leadership and diversity strategies. Hos clients include MasterCard International, United States Air Force Academy, USEPA, National Military Family Association, Toastmasters International, John Hopkins University, and numerous other organizations. http://www.paullawrencevann.com, http://www.livingonhigherground.com, http://pvann.blogspot.com, (800) 476-8976.

 

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