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African American business womanWhat Is an Influential Leader?

An influential leader is someone who, through powerful influence (as opposed to coercion), achieves effective results through people who choose to follow him or her because they believe in and trust that the leader can guide them to the desired result. Both high levels of competence AND high levels of trust accompany high levels of influence.

Becoming an influential leader doesn’t just happen. It takes a commitment to being your best and doing your best regardless, consistently. Pat Summit, the winningest coach in NCAA college basketball history (for men’s and women’s basketball) died in June, 2016, of early on-set Alzheimer’s. Pat knew something about that kind of commitment. She said:  “We keep score in life because it matters….Too many people opt out and never discover their own abilities because they fear failure. They don’t understand commitment. When you learn to keep fighting in the face of potential failure, it gives you a larger skill set to do what you want to do.”
It gives you the skill set to achieve your purpose – something that is a lifelong journey.

Have you ever noticed that at business conferences or educational meetings that it’s often the best of the best that show up and sit in the front row with pen and paper or computer and take notes, sharpening their skills and building their competencies? Real leaders never stop learning. And there’s good reason for this.
When you commit to being your best at what you’re currently doing, it opens the doors to the future, to the next level of responsibility.

I interviewed Dr. Ruth Shaw, retired President and CEO of Duke Power Company, for my bestselling book, The Unstoppables – Success Strategies from 12 Top Women Leaders to Super Charge Your Career. Dr. Shaw, early in her career, advanced to the highest levels in academia. That was intentional. What was not intentional was her move to business.

Dr. Shaw told me she was “born to serve.” And, she served both in her organization and in the community. As to her volunteer work, she said, “I only set out to do really good work on behalf of the community.” So when the Vice Chair of Duke Power, whom she’d met through her civic activities, asked to meet with her, she thought it was to discuss another civic endeavor. But it wasn’t. He asked her to take the leap from academia to become part of the Duke Leadership team—something that came as a complete surprise to her.

Had Dr. Shaw not been preparing herself all along the way–-committed to becoming her best self and to doing her very best work-–she might never have set into motion the wheels that would propel her toward a journey of significant influence, service, and opportunity that even she had never imagined—the place she was able to do her very best work.

A person of influence is the go-to person others believe in and trust to guide them to the desired result. Because they are committed to being their very best and doing their very best, they possess both high levels of competence and high levels of trust.

How influential a leader are you?

Want to become a MORE influential leader, able to make a bigger contribution? Check out how here!

(c) 2018 Mary Jane Mapes All rights reserved.

#influence #leadership #relationships #business


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