Becoming a More Influential Person
Back in my days training to be an Army Officer they taught us a lot about leadership. Problem was I was much too young and immature to ‘get it’. I graduated as a Lieutenant firmly convinced that my rank gave me power and the higher the rank that I was able to achieve, the more power I would have.
But soldiers, as things turn out, pretty much like everyone else, don’t follow you because of your rank. (I’ve met officers whom the soldiers only followed out of idle curiosity to see what damned foolish thing they’d do next!)
They follow you out of respect … and respect is something you earn.
The military is a great metaphor for understanding the difference between control on the one hand and influence and influence on the other, because when a soldier follows an officer, they sometimes have to follow that officer into battle.
That’s the place where bullets are flying, artillery shells are exploding, friends are falling and fear can grip even the strongest of men.
In my ten years in the Army I only met a handful of officers that I’d happily have followed into battle. They all had these things in common:
They were the ones I trusted.
They were the ones I respected.
And they were the ones who I knew would lay down their lives for me.
To this day the one who stands out is the late Major General Alby Morrison. Short in stature, quiet in speech, humble in presence … and a giant among men.
As my hair has greyed and hopefully I’ve done a bit of growing up since those days as a brash, young officer cadet, the thing I’ve noticed is that rank or position or title have very little to do with influence. Influence, it seems, has much more to do with depth of character and with the words and actions that flow out of that character.
Some of the most influential people in my life have been people whose names most will never know, who cut anything but an impressive figure, and who don’t appear particularly talented at all … from a distance.
But what they had … was character.
Over the next few posts, we’re going to explore the power of influence.
But before we do, let me ask you to think of the three most influential people in your life so far.
Who are they and why are they so influential?
They’re going to be your “case studies” as we explore influence and grow into the attitudes, mindsets and skills of becoming a more influential person over the coming days and weeks.