The 5 Surprising Habits that will Make You a More Influential Leader

April 22, 2016
The 5 Surprising Habits that will Make You a More Influential Leader

Making impact requires you to influence others around you. But when you manage a team of people, being an influential leader is not always as easy as it sounds – after all, if your team members don’t like or respect you, they’re unlikely to listen to you or follow your lead.

So how do you make people like you more, in order to influence them better? After all, if it was easy, then “how to make people like you” would not be such a hot search term in Google, and books like “How to Win Friends and Influence People” would not have been such big sellers. Well, there is no secret switch – but, according to Dale at StartupCamp, there are at least 5 good habits that you should develop if you want to become a more influential leader.

Some of them might go against your gut instinct, but they all make sense. Here they are:

1. Keep Your Complaints to Yourself

We all get frustrated, and we all need to vent. But according to Dale, when you’re around people who look up to you for leadership, it actually pays to bottle up your feelings and hold onto your complaints.

A lot of you might be thinking “but that goes against everything any psychologist has ever said anywhere – surely it’s unhealthy to bottle up emotions like that?”, and if you are, then you’re probably right. But there is a time and a place for venting your frustration, and being around the people you lead is not this time nor place.

So why is this? Dale explains it quite well. “If even one employee or subordinate hears you complain about anything” says Dale “whether it’s today’s traffic or the deadline you’re struggling to hit, or how you lost a client, it places unnecessary weight upon their shoulders and builds contempt in the hearts of everyone who follows you”.

So the next time you feel the need to express your anger or frustration, why not call up a friend instead of unleashing the burden on the people you’re trying to lead?

2. Don’t “Say it Like it Is”

A lot of people see “straight talking” as a remarkable personality trait, and in many ways it is. We all have a friend we love who is “totally down to earth” and just “says it how they see it”. But when it comes to being a great leader that your team members love, Dale explains that sometimes you need to say things how people need to hear them, instead of saying them how they actually are.

“Good communication should captivate” he tells us. “[We should depend less] on the ever-changing strategies and tactics found in marketing articles, and [rely more on] our ability to understand how to talk to people.”

Dale states that when a leader focuses on selflessness, it is normally a big win. And when you are considerate enough to change your communication style and approach to suit the individual needs, cultures and beliefs of those listening, then this is a very good way of showing your selflessness.

3. Select Your Battles Wisely

Did your mother ever tell you to stick up for yourself and fight to the bitter end as long as you’re not in the wrong? Mine didn’t – but I know a lot of people whose mothers did say this, and if I’m being honest, I sort of respect this attitude. After all, why should you accept defeat when you know you’re right?

When it comes to leading your team, however, Dale suggests that sometimes, peace is better than being right. He admits that it seems quite counterintuitive, but tells us that this very philosophy has produced for him more valuable relationships than he can count.

Dale adds that sometimes we “lose sight of the person and focus our sights on the win”.

4. Sell Yourself, Not Your Brand

According to Dale, far too many leaders hide behind their company. He says that they can build a strong brand and execute a task list, but that they are not confident enough to even follow themselves. And how do we expect other people to follow us when we can’t follow ourselves?

The trick here, Dale says, is to incorporate the bits that make you human within your work. Don’t be afraid of sharing your weaknesses and the things that make you real – and don’t pretend that you only want the business to grow for business growth’s sake. There’s nothing wrong with you wanting the business to grow personally!

Work on your self-confidence, don’t shy away from sharing your human side, and let people follow you as a person – not just the brand you represent.

5. Value Others Above Yourself

The final point is all about selflessness and authenticity. Think for a moment about anybody who has ever paid you an authentic compliment that has lifted you right up, and provided vital affirmation as to your positive character traits. Feels good, doesn’t it? If done right, it can make you feel as though you’re more important than anything else at that moment in time!

Dale explains that the capacity to do this comes from having a humble heart, and in having a genuine belief in the value of others. He also says that it is a tough quality to develop, but that the more you can grasp about the equality of people, the less you will tower over – and therefore lose the respect of – those around you.

What do you think are the best habits leaders should develop to encourage their team members to like them and follow their example?

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