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.”

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.