PEOPLE – The Hope and Hurdle of Leaders

Last month I had a wonderful opportunity to address a group of people at Franklin University’s monthly Hall Leadership Lessons breakfast gathering. What made the experience extra special for me was the fact that my mom, wife and daughter were all in attendance. As if that were not enough, I had about two dozen friends show up along with many co-workers from State Auto Insurance.

My talk centered on using scientifically proven ways to be a more effective leader. If you think about leadership it implies having people to lead — followers, if you will. As wonderful as it might look on the surface to be a leader, leading people is hard work! There are ups and downs, good and bad, positive and negative when it comes to being a leader because of the people.

I think you’d agree that no leader goes it alone and everyone who’s had a major impact on the world did so by leading others. Jack Welsh, former CEO of General Electric, said, “Nearly everything I’ve done in my life has been accomplished with other people.” Some of you reading this might be thinking, sure Jack Welch can say that because he ran GE and could simply tell people what to do or fire them. Not so fast!

Despite what people might think, very few leaders just tell people what to do. Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th president of the United States once said, “The only real power available to the leader is the power of persuasion.” Some people say the President is the most powerful person on earth and yet even the president has to win over voters, congressmen and senators.

So leadership happens through people and the best leaders are often the best persuaders. It all sounds good until we confront this reality, “Dealing with people is probably the biggest problem you face, especially if you’re in business.” That statement was made more than 75 years ago by Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People. Don’t think this applies just to leading followers. While leaders primarily lead those who report directly to them, quite often they have to also get their bosses and peers to buy in to ideas. Now it’s getting complicated.

So when it comes to leadership people are our hope and our hurdle, our blessing and curse. Leaders will never accomplish great things without a strong supporting cast and getting that same supporting cast to buy into the vision and properly execute it is the ultimate challenge for the leader.

I like to say influence is all about PEOPLEPowerful EverydayOpportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical. Understanding Robert Cialdini’s six principles of influence will allow you to ethically leverage human psychology and make it much more likely to hear that word all leaders want to hear when they make a request of others — “Yes!

The same day as the Franklin presentation I was interviewed by Audley Stephenson for his weekly blog, Hard Court Leadership Lessons. The focus of that conversation was also influence and leadership so if you’d like to learn more click here to listen to that interview.

Thanks for reading and a special thanks to those of you who took time to come down to Franklin University at 7:30 a.m. last month. I thank you for sacrificing a little sleep in order to learn how to ethically influence in order to be a more effective leader.

Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
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