Lessons in Leadership: Five tips on how to lead by influence

April 13, 2020
Lessons in Leadership: Five tips on how to lead by influence
Lessons in Leadership

Until her death in 1996, my loving grandmother would often repeat the story about how I would try to command my older brother to finish his dinner.  “Brian!” she would mimic my firm, not-quite-so-deep but still very bossy five year-old voice.  “Eat your food!” she recalled me exclaiming.  Brian, more than three years my senior, would simply reply “You’re not my daddy” reminding me that there was only one alpha male in the Phillips household at that time.  Clearly, I was not in charge and had no business telling Brian what to do.  However, the point I was making was valid and, if executed, would lead to favorable results (we could go out and play!).  At the time I hadn’t yet learned the all-important notion of leading by influence.

In business, “You’re not my daddy” sounds eerily similar to “You’re not my boss.”  In my experience leading both large corporate divisions and smaller entrepreneurial teams, the need to lead by influence has been consistently more important – and effective – than leading by authority.  Fancy job titles may make your business card look impressive but rarely do they lead to the kind of followership required to drive sustained transformation.  Unless you’re in the military where the “Jump!” command is met with a “How high?” response, leading by influence is a critical skill all leaders should continually develop.  Below are a five tips that will make you a more influential leader:

Had I known these tips at age five, perhaps Brian would have eaten his food.  Instead of enjoying the entertainment value of a bossy five year-old, Grandma should have taught me more about effective techniques to lead by influence.  If only she could see my children at the dinner table today.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Must be time for dinner now!

Author:  J. Todd Phillips

* Initially published in Nov, 2014