Many people talk about it; few understand it. Many people want it; few achieve it. As I’ve studied leadership over the last eight years, I’ve found that there are many definitions and descriptions. Ask ten people to define leadership, and you’ll probably receive ten different answers. The best definition of leadership I’ve found is from John Maxwell’s book Developing the Leader Within You. In it, he says that leadership is influence. That’s it. Nothing more; nothing less.
Leadership is the ability to obtain followers. To obtain followers, leaders need to have influence with those people – no influence, no followers. A leadership proverb says: “He who thinketh he leadeth and hath no one following him is only taking a walk.”
It’s interesting that many people define leadership as the ability to achieve a certain position. Once they’ve attained a certain position, they think that they have become the leader. You may be a leader that does have a certain “position”; however, there are many leaders who often experience the frustration of few followers. And then there are those who lack proper titles, who may not see themselves as leaders but really are and never develop their leadership skills.
Sociologists say that even the most introverted individual will influence 10,000 other people during his/her lifetime. Every one of us influences someone. We may not know who or how much, but we all influence other people. The most effective way to understand the power of influence is to think of the times that you’ve been touched by the influence of another person. In reflecting on my own life, I think of my parents, my eighth-grade basketball coach, Gib Felton, one of my employers when I was in college, John O’Connor, and a former manager, Bob Swygman. The list is probably endless. Influencers have helped mold us into the persons we are.
What kind of influencer will you be in the life of other people? Will you grow your leadership skills? I’ve come to realize that influence is a skill that can be developed. Not everyone will become a great leader, but everyone can become a better leader. Will you unleash your leadership potential? Will you use your leadership skills to better your organization, your family, and your own life?
Influence is a skill that can be developed. Increase your influence and you will increase your leadership potential.
Blog Authored by: Garry Watts, CPCU