Influence Really is That Important

In my first naive years as a school leader, I didn’t understand the power of influence.  I wasn’t so sure that Dale Carnegie really knew what he was talking about. I used to think that if you told people what to do, then they would do it. I spent very little time reflecting on my leadership and my impact on people.

Photo Credit: wajadoon Flickr via Compfight cc

Fast forward 9 years.  Now I know that leading people is much more complex. Lots of reading, observation and my own mistakes and successes have taught me that. Compliance does not mean commitment. Not only that, but if you lose the ability to influence those you work with, you become an ineffective leader.

The Ontario Leadership Framework rests on this: “Leadership is the exercise of influence on organizational members and diverse stakeholders toward the identification and achievement of the organization’s vision and goals”.

This kind of leadership needs respectful relationships, trust, and an ability to listen carefully and understand people. That means:

  • getting to know people, their values, beliefs and experiences;
  • demonstrating character (Steven M.R. Covey: How the Best Leaders Build Trust): trustworthiness, follow through and integrity;
  • demonstrating competence (Covey) and knowledge in your role;
  • showing vulnerability and admitting what you don’t know;
  • listening to understand, not to respond;
  • asking for feedback regularly;
  • showing that you value people through your actions and your words.

What strikes you about this list?  One of my biggest challenges is active listening. Sometimes the need to give my opinion or the “right” answer can be overwhelming, and I need to remind myself how to work best with people.

I want to influence others to do their very best, most creative and interesting work and so I keep on. It’s worth doing.

 

Four Ways to Extend My Digital Leadership

Digital spaces beckon me. I enjoy quickly scanning my Twitter feed for interesting tidbits. I’ve loved reading about Ontario educators’ #oneword in the Google+ community.  I blog here. Still, I wonder what more I need to do as a leader.  Jennifer Casa-Todd, digital educator, challenged the audience recently with a thought provoking question at a keynote address in our district. She asked, “How do you exemplify digital leadership?”

Leadership is the exercise of influence. It’s not about telling others what to do (much as some may dream of snapping their fingers and making it so), but rather building a culture where others take on new challenges, work to be their very best and openly share what they’ve learned.

Influencing the use of digital tools is a challenge for me, however. While I use those tools with relative ease to communicate, create and share, others do not feel comfortable doing so. So I’m not sure it’s about being an exemplar. When we exemplify something, we show how it can be done at its best. That’s important, but this kind of modelling only goes so far. Having a great model can inspire. It can also demotivate or even paralyze.

So I’m thinking more about how to extend my digital leadership to influence a culture where people may be willing to try.

  1. Using the digital spaces in our organization.  Be present in the platforms that are provided. I know what they are and how they work. Am I using them to their full advantage?
  2. Interacting on Twitter.  Retweeting. Commenting on tweets. Replying. Liking. Connecting with others.
  3. Sharing links and articles.  If it resonates, I share. If it made me think, I share. If I don’t completely agree, I share.
  4. Share the thinking in my blog.  This one is more difficult for me.  I’ve been leery of pushing myself forward, but why not? I welcome conversations about what I write here. Transparency may help others to be admit what they don’t know.

I feel comfortable in digital spaces. Can I help others feel the same way?

EXPLORE – #oneword for 2018

January 1 is a “let’s get to it” day. Last week, I set my reading goal for the year. I created my January bullet journal pages. I also did laundry, but don’t worry, that’s not just a new year’s thing.

Now it’s time for my #oneword which has become a yearly tradition (see my last three #oneword posts below). I choose #oneword because it provides me with a reflection framework. As I’ve mentioned in this space, I’m a terrible procrastinator and setting myself the challenge of choosing #oneword helps me focus.

I also love the brevity of #oneword. Less is more.

This year feels like a gateway year.  My career as a school board employee is coming to an end sometime in the next few years, and I’m thinking about what is next. I want to investigate what it possible. I want to let ideas macerate and mingle.

I’ve always wanted to work on my doctorate – is now the time? What do I want my mark to be on this world? How can I best use my strengths and interests in this part of my life?

This quote from Steve Jobs just appeared in my Twitter timeline and it feels right to use it.

“And most important have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”

That’s what I want to explore this year.


Here’s a big shout out to Julie Balen, Ontario educator, who is leading #onewordONT this year through her Google+ Community OneWordOnt Blogs.  Join and share your #oneword.

Previous #oneword posts:

GRACE – #oneword for 2017

ESSENTIAL – #oneword for 2016

One Word for 2015