Episode 30 – The Air You Can Wear

The Details

Nothing describes a late summer day in Central Pennsylvania better than the three H’s…hazy, hot and humid.  But what do the three H’s have to do with leadership?   

While you can’t necessarily see the humidity outside simply by looking through your office window, you most certainly feel its presence the second you venture outdoors.  When we think of those of who have influenced us over time, most likely it’s not their physical appearance or blatant actions we recall.  As Maya Angelou once opined “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”   

Oftentimes when leaders think of their ability to influence others, they think of the continual need to convince others to do something or to force compliance through constant communication, action and decision making.  While these things are certainly important, we submit that leaders can actually exert greater influence through helping others become more cognizant of their own behavior and how it affects others.     

We argue that leaders who show genuine interest in others, exhibit good listening skills, and display active curiosity can actually be more influential compared to their overly aggressive counterparts.  The goal here is to allow influence to take place over time naturally instead of forcing it onto others through the use of power and position.    

Similar to business or executive coaches, leaders can use questions to provoke thought and to allow an employee to come to more impactful conclusions on their own.  In fact, sometimes a person has to physically say words out loud for something to really hit home.  (Did I just say that?  I wasn’t even aware I felt that way.)  We like to refer to these instances as lightbulb moments.   

Leaders who can ignite more lightbulb moments will leave a longer lasting impact compared to those who simply and constantly force their thoughts and opinions on others.  Effective leaders don’t necessarily set out to be influential.  Yet, when they display and emphasize the value in others, they end up leaving a mark that may not be visible, but is certainly felt. 

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