True leadership has very little to do with your title. We all know people in high positions who are pitifully lacking in their ability to motivate their people to achieve good results. They may have legitimate authority or power vested in them by their titles and still not have the respect and support of subordinates or even peers. The true mark of a leader is how well he or she is able to influence people. If you cannot influence people, you cannot lead them. Therefore, the best way to increase your leadership ability is to increase your ability to influence people.
The following are two dictionary definitions of the word influence:

  • the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others
  • the action or process of producing effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of another or others

 It is great that we know the definition of the word and we will agree that knowing “what” to do is one thing, yet knowing “how” to do it is another thing altogether. So how do you influence people?

 Most of us know the acronym “WIIFM!” Those are not the letters of a radio station! It stands for “What’s In It For Me?” We must not be deceived to think that people do things simply because we tell them to do so. We must remember that people generally do things because of the benefits they see for themselves. In order to get people to go along with us, we must be able to help them understand what’s in it for them. It is important for us to be honest and sincere; otherwise people will see right through us and know we are faking it. Undoubtedly the best book ever written on this subject is “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. If it has been a long time since you read that book, please be encouraged to read it again. In fact, make it a goal to read it at least once every two years!

Author: Dr Joseph Amanfu, PMI Tallahasee Past President