Leadership guru, John Maxwell, says that “Leadership is influence and influence is leadership, nothing more, nothing less.” Many people mistakenly think that leadership is a title. Titles may give a person some prestige or artificial power, but true leadership involves the amount of influence that a person has. Maxwell further states that a leader without followers is just a person going for a long walk.
Great leaders are influential. People want to follow great leaders. You don’t have to have a title to be influential. People are willing to be led and influenced by others if they feel that the leader can take them where they want to go.
Your team captain, your boss, your political representative may not be a strong leader because they aren’t influential. They may have perceived power because of their title but they are lacking in the influence area. They might not have the charisma or the character or the results that people are looking for. They might not connect with others.
What does all of this mean for you? Some of you reading this do not have a title. Some of you may feel that you are not important. However, everyone has the ability to influence someone. You have the ability to make positive choices. You have the ability to be enthusiastic. You have the ability to be trustworthy. Essentially, you have the ability to be a person of character that others believe in.
If you are one of the harder workers on a team and you are successful, that will speak loudly. If you add value to people’s lives, they will be indebted to you. If others know that you truly care about them, they will be loyal to you.
The world around us needs strong leadership now more than ever. You may not be THE leader, THE boss or THE captain but you can be a leader. Everyone has a scope of influence. At the very least, you can influence yourself.
Years ago when I was coaching, I had a team that decided they would run sprints for every turnover that they committed in the game the night before. They did this for the first game. However, after having a number of turnovers in the second game, the captains decided they didn’t want to run any more. I asked a freshman after the game why she didn’t run even though she had committed to doing so. Her response was as you would expect…no one else was doing it so why should she? She went on say that she was only a freshman and had no pull with the other girls. I then pointed out that her two best-friends were on the team and that surely they would have run with her. One of those girls also is close with another team member, who might be good friends with another team member and so on. The law of influence multiplied out might have affected the majority of the team. Doing what is right has to start somewhere. Why not be the one to start it.
If you want to be a true leader, you will want to “Lead yourself…Influence others…Change the world around you.” Lead yourself first. Be the person that you need to be. Only then can you truly influence others. Once you influence others, that is when we start to see real change in the world. As Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” It starts with you.