Influence and impact

One thing you can keep in mind each day is that you have influ­ence and impact as an indi­vid­ual per­son. It can be com­mon to think that on your own, you can’t impact or change much any­thing unless you’re in an “offi­cial” posi­tion of lead­er­ship. 

It turns out that the most influ­en­tial indi­vid­u­als lever­age their influ­ence exact­ly where they are right now. They don’t wait for a fan­cy role or revised title or larg­er paycheck.In oth­er words, they influ­ence and impact peo­ple exact­ly where they are now.

With­in your sphere, you have the abil­i­ty to start or con­tin­ue a con­ver­sa­tion with oth­ers about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it... 

With­in your sphere, you have the abil­i­ty to sense neg­a­tiv­i­ty and frus­tra­tion, and help peo­ple to bet­ter under­stand what’s hap­pen­ing... 

The big ques­tion then is, are you aware of your influ­ence? Are you using it?

Communicate early and often

I’ve expe­ri­enced it and I’m sure you have too. You’re get­ting close to a dead­line for a project and you’re wait­ing on 12 essen­tial details to com­plete every­thing. 

You’re so close to the dead­line that hav­ing any con­ver­sa­tions or com­mu­ni­ca­tion will KEEP you from com­plet­ing the project

So what do you do? 

You skip them... and get to work. 

Seri­ous­ly though... who has time to com­mu­ni­cate ear­ly and often when you have a dead­line to meet? 

It’s eas­i­er to go silent and com­mu­ni­cate less when there’s a big event or dead­line right around the cor­ner. How­ev­er, one of the strate­gic behav­iors I want all of us to con­sid­er as lead­ers is this:

We communicate EARLY and OFTEN.

Part 1: Com­mu­ni­cat­ing EARLY

This means we talk about stuff while we can still make plen­ty of adjust­ments. When you com­mu­ni­cate late, there’s often no time left to make changes. On Nov 13, I wrote about how we plan in advance so that ‘lack of time’ is nev­er an issue. Around CFC, we don’t want to fall into the “I did­n’t have enough time” trap. That’s not a good excuse! By com­mu­ni­cat­ing ear­ly, we can keep each oth­er in the loop before it is too late.

When you com­mu­ni­cate ear­ly... you can let your team know about stuff while there’s still time to fig­ure out key details and oth­er solu­tions. 

When you com­mu­ni­cate ear­ly... you allow time for prop­er plan­ning. See my post from Nov 13 for more plan­ning tips and tricks: https://public.3.basecamp.com/p/HonuXbbxWwdGMvnDsXg1nJXG

Part 2: Com­mu­ni­cat­ing OFTEN

This just means we’re in the pat­tern of a con­sis­tent con­ver­sa­tion — not a irreg­u­lar mono­logue

So far my per­son­al attempts to achieve this have been:

  • Month­ly vol­un­teer train­ing meet­ings (Sat­ur­days) 
  • Weekly(ish) posts here in Base­camp (like this one)

But I’m sure there’s more I could do and that we could all do... 

Next steps...

  • What, if any­thing, do you have to com­mu­ni­cate that would be bet­ter for your team to know SOONER than lat­er?
  • How often have you com­mu­ni­cat­ed? 
  • What can we do bet­ter to make sure com­mu­ni­ca­tion is hap­pen­ing EARLY and OFTEN?

Who is your replacement

You may be just walk­ing into your role as a leader or maybe you’ve been at this for a while. The best lead­ers are always think­ing for­ward to how they can make them­selves replace­able.

If you know you your replace­ment might be...

  • What respon­si­bil­i­ties or projects could you del­e­gate to them some­time soon? 
  • How might you inten­tion­al­ly bring them into your world and how you think through things?
  • Is there a way for you to take them out for cof­fee or lunch... have them over your house?

If you don’t know who your replace­ment is... 

  • Just keep this idea in mind over the com­ing weeks... “who is my replace­ment?”
  • Who might you recruit that might be a leader for the team one day?
  • Ask some peo­ple on your team if they’d ever con­sid­er being a leader... 

Giving authority away

Check out this awe­some quote from Craig Groeschel: “When you del­e­gate tasks you cre­ate fol­low­ers. When you del­e­gate author­i­ty, you cre­ate lead­ers.”

“When you del­e­gate tasks you cre­ate fol­low­ers. When you del­e­gate author­i­ty, you cre­ate lead­ers.” — Craig Groeschel .png 64.9 KB View full-size Down­load

Del­e­gat­ing tasks looks like peo­ple “help­ing you” to get some­thing done. This results in fol­low­ers. You have the authority—they have an action item.

How­ev­er, when you give away author­i­ty, you give some­one else the abil­i­ty to make deci­sions on their own, which allows them to step up a leader (yet you’re still the leader). 

Great teams of leaders create leaders.

In oth­er words, they’re not just on the team to ful­fill a task, but to pour into peo­ple.

Great leaders build better leaders and create opportunities for them to exercise their strengths

That means your role isn’t to just do a bunch of tasks and get things done — it’s to devel­op lead­ers on your team. There is prob­a­bly some­one in your sphere of influ­ence that you could “free up” to take own­er­ship of some­thing. Your job is to give them that oppor­tu­ni­ty. The way to do it is by giv­ing them author­i­ty, not tasks. 

Some questions to consider... 

  • Do you feel like you have the author­i­ty to make deci­sions in your role as a leader?
  • As a fol­low up to that first ques­tion, think of the peo­ple on your team. Do they feel like they have the author­i­ty to make deci­sions? (How can you help them to make sure they do?)
  • What are some upcom­ing projects where you can give some­one else the author­i­ty to car­ry out a project? (And not micro­man­age them!)
  • Are you build­ing a team of “helpers” or “lead­ers”? 

Behavior: getting from pointless to purposeful

Point­less­ness. I hate it. Don’t you?

I bet that you, just like me, have had point­less expe­ri­ences. Point­less meet­ings. Point­less texts. Point­less phone calls. Point­less con­ver­sa­tions.

We can be tempt­ed to say, “yeah, but even thru the point­less expe­ri­ences, you can find mean­ing!” Or we might say, “even when things seem POINTLESS, there’s a big­ger thing that’s always going on.” Or, “Rela­tion­ships are valu­able. Deal­ing with point­less stuff is part of build­ing rela­tion­al cap­i­tal!” And, I’d agree. But for a moment, think with me...

Point­less expe­ri­ences (meet­ings, con­ver­sa­tions, phone calls, emails, doc­u­ments, text mes­sages, etc.) are deemed “point­less” by you and I, the ones who think. We don’t sim­ply do things “just because,” but with a pur­pose. Pur­pose dri­ves every­thing we do. We hate when we are unclear on the objec­tive, can’t see the “why,” and don’t know our role in the larg­er pic­ture. We hate when behav­iors don’t align with how we like to oper­ate: with orga­ni­za­tion, clar­i­ty, agen­das, and mean­ing.

So here’s my idea: you and I must spread a pas­sion for pur­pose­ful behav­ior. We must talk about “how we behave” to our co-work­ers, boss­es, and col­leagues who typ­i­cal­ly facil­i­tate point­less expe­ri­ences. We must spread a pas­sion for think­ing things through and tak­ing the time to decide. We must find great mod­els and ways of doing things that can spread to oth­ers and not just be based on our own per­son­al pref­er­ences.

If we base our work sat­is­fac­tion on whether or not oth­ers “do things the way WE like them,” we will always be frus­trat­ed, annoyed, and bogged down. But if we learn to see oppor­tu­ni­ties to come along side oth­ers and sug­gest a mutu­al­ly BETTER way of doing things, we can expe­ri­ence growth, change, and progress.

The more you and I demon­strate what it looks like to give some­thing the atten­tion it deserves (a doc­u­ment, an email, a meet­ing agen­da), we will gain more cred­itabil­i­ty and influ­ence with those around us. It’s cred­itabil­i­ty and influ­ence that then gives you a seat at the table to bring about real change in how things are done.

I don’t know if you’re dis­cour­aged today by some­thing that hap­pened at work. Maybe you feel like your boss is an idiot... you’re putting in all this extra, valu­able effort . . . and it’s unno­ticed.

Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Make a list of the kinds of “key behav­iors” that you’d like to see more of
  2. Demon­strate the behav­ior you want to see more of
  3. Find an oppor­tu­ni­ty to talk about “how you behave” with your co-work­ers*
  4. Con­tin­ue to talk about the kind of behav­ior that best serves you & your work
  5. Reg­u­lar­ly make adjust­ments and per­form course-cor­rec­tion

* My sug­ges­tion for how to find an oppor­tu­ni­ty to talk about “behav­ior” is this (based on advice from Clay Scrog­gins): Find a moment when you are hav­ing a light/easy-going moment with your boss or co-work­er. Ask them their advice on how you can bring up things you dis­agree about in that moment — when the stakes are low­er and the air isn’t tense. Use this as an oppor­tu­ni­ty not to talk about the hard stuff but to learn the best way to bring up the hard stuff, the next time it does.