Leadership and Influence: Making An Impact


May 10, 2011

You’re not a leader if no one is following. 

This revelation hit me as I sat in the Smith/ Gorman session on influence at HRevolution.  I was sitting outside the discussion group as I prepared my thoughts around closing the event when I found my attention drawn to the conversation.  As the group debated various ideas around what it means to be influential, how to gain influence, and what each person could do to create their own call to action, I found myself thinking about influence in the behavioral sense.  Being influential involves some simple behaviors.

Behaviors That Support Being Influential

  • Being intentional.  Making a real effort to reach out and connect with people.
  • Offering feedback or assistance. Asking the person what you can do for them, each and every conversation, builds trust.
  • Asking someone for their expertise, then sharing that with your network or another individual.
  • Promoting others’ work.  If you have credibility and you share someone else’s work, you not only continue to build your influence, you are building theirs as well.
  • Sharing your perspective. Doing so in a way that brings it to the individual level, but making it scalable to a larger group.

Being influential is granular for me.  It’s about having an individual come to me and say, “You really made me think differently, approach a situation differently, or take an action that I would not have taken.”  Influencing others means that you make an impact on  that person’s life.  Then, you begin multiplying that experience.  The beauty of being influential is that you become a leader regardless if you have the title or not.

What behaviors have I missed that support being  able to influence others?  Share them in the comments.


  • I love this message Trish because if focuses on how critical relationships are in life. Job titles mean nothing if you can not connect with people in a meaningful way. Sure, people will run around and get work done out of fear, but there is zero loyalty in that model. Effective relationships are the key to personal and professional success. Great post.

    • @Jay- Thanks Jay. I’ve just been thinking a lot lately about who the (titled) leaders are at work and why some are not effective. It usually boils down to them not having influence with their team members or colleagues. Prompted me to think about what we can do to support building those behaviors that promote greater influence. Thanks for your comment.

  • One thing missing, IMHO, is listening. Not merely hearing but listening. Understanding what the others are saying and offering constructive feedback or support one what they said or asked.

  • Again, you made me think. Thanks. Here’s where the thoughts took me:

    Leaders thrive on shared commitments. Their focus on results, not actions, allows for team members to do what they see as the best path to the desired end.

    Unarticulated vision can lead to frustration and confusion — people argue over what is the right path when the problem is that they are trying to get to different places.

    Leaders, independent of role or title, rally teams around shared commitments to get the best from all.

    Net, managers tell us what to do. Leaders establish what we are going to achieve.

    What do you see?


  • Trish – great conversations My simpledefinition of a leader is someone that we willingly follow to places we don’t normaly go – in m y career the leaders I followed possessed a couple of common characteristics (trust, great communicators, and courage in their beliefs)


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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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