As leaders we are in the influence business.
Think about it – while it might be desirable and make our lives easier, we can’t make anyone do anything, at least not for very long, and without there being unintended consequences.
If we as leaders can’t control others, we must influence or persuade them.
Without question, as leaders we are in the business of influencing others to choose their actions, choices and words. We want them to follow our lead and direction. And to do that, we must influence.
Which then leads to an important question – how can we influence others successfully?
This is a big question (most important ones are), and one that is pretty complex too. There are many pieces to the influence puzzle. Today I am writing about just one. One that stands with you, and radiates out to those who you hope will choose to follow.
One way to be influential is to lead from clearly held values. People want to follow others when they know where they stand – when they know what they are getting and they understand why actions are taken (even if they don’t agree with all of them).
We want to follow people who are consistent.
In his landmark book : Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Dr. Robert Cialdini writes:
“A high degree of consistency is normally associated with personal and intellectual strength. It is at the heart of logic, rationality, stability, and honesty.”
Do you want to follow people you see as intellectually and personally strong? Who are rational, stable and honest?
While there are other desirable features we would list for a leader, most everyone would quickly nod in agreement with that list. And the best way to cultivate that list is to have a clear set of guiding principles that you live by each day.
That set of daily guiding principles are your values.
My point here is not to give you a set of values (it wouldn’t work anyway). My point is to urge you to make those values clear to yourself and those you lead.
Time spent clarifying your most important values (not listing 15 important things) will be time well spent. Once made clear to you, they will more closely guide the decisions you make.
History is full of leaders making decisions that seemed hard to the world but easy for them because their values were their guide. And a review of the aftermath of those decisions was higher levels of trust and influence by those following.
History also houses many more examples of people making decisions that felt expedient or situational to those following – and the results are far less effective in the short and long term.
I’ve now laid out both of the important points about leading from our values:
• It makes our job easier.
• It makes us more influential and effective.
I’m not sure I could give you two better reasons to do anything than those. And so I am urging you to clarify and live by your values.
Here is my simple son-of-a-pig-farmer point: Decide what you stand for and act from those beliefs.
Not everyone will agree, but even many of those people will follow because of the power of your commitment and consistency.
What are the principles that matter most to you?
How could they influence your decisions, actions and words as a leader?

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