Recently, there is a lot of talk about “influencers” in our communities – those with sufficient power, presence or persuasion to affect the decisions of others.
Usually, such influencers are discussed in the context of consumers and marketing. In my experience, there are far greater influencers out there – workplace leaders.
Workplace leaders are critical influencers in two key respects:
- Leaders influence the decisions and actions of those who report to them; and
- Leaders influence those affected by the decisions and actions of their direct reports.
As a leader, you significantly influence the actions of many individuals on a day-to-day basis: colleagues, clients, customers and competitors to name but a few.
But keep in mind, this is not a “choice” – your influence arises from your organizational role and responsibilities.
How does this happen?
Leadership Through Action
First, as a leader, you influence the decisions of your team and workplace culture through your actions. You are seen, in law and practice, as a role model. An example for others on how to act and perform within your organization.
Put all formal staff training and expectations aside – your team will invariably be influenced by the values you consistently display in your own conduct, communication and professionalism.
When you “walk the talk” of respectful workplace culture, you positively influence your direct reports and the overall culture in your workplace. If you choose to conduct yourself in an unprofessional, overbearing or disrespectful manner, you will similarly influence your team, albeit in a negative way.
It is no coincidence that many individuals mirror the actions of their leaders.
Leadership Through Inaction
Second, leaders influence their teams and workplace culture through inaction.
Leaders have an obligation to build and support respectful workplace culture. As part of this, leaders are expected – as part of their role – to hold team members, colleagues and others accountable for communication and conduct that is inconsistent with a safe and healthy workplace.
When leaders fail to “show up” for their teams – either because they are rarely around, or they are present but “fail to act” in the face of individual or team dysfunction – they negatively influence the workplace environment and organizational culture, often in a powerful way.
The Power of Influence
As a leader, know that you significantly influence those around you, whether or not you realize it or intend this to be the case.
In this day and age, know that those who report to you – and those who rely on the decisions of your direct reports – are watching closely, hoping that you will use your power as influencer to create accountable, responsible and respectful organizations.
There is so much potential in being an influencer. And so much risk.
Leaders need meaningful support and assistance to help maximize their positive influence on those around them. I have seen it first hand, and am ready to assist you and your organization in this mission-critical endeavour.
Marli’s online video training on conflict resolution and respectful workplaces.