Leadership Is For Every Woman, Including You
Leadership Is Influence… It’s As Simple As That
A number of years ago, I went to a leadership summit by Bill Hybels. One speaker, in particular, stood out to me: his name was John C. Maxwell and he said, “Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less.”
Such simple words. And yet, when I heard that, my perspective shifted in a significant way…
Originally, I had attended that conference to support my husband because he’s a leader. You see, I was used to standing back, not having a voice, and not speaking up. I was used to letting other people lead and expecting other people to lead.
However, this man was telling me that if I influence anyone, then I am a leader.
When I came home, I had a brand new mindset about what leadership is. I realized that I’m a mom – and that makes me a leader. Recognizing this gave me a whole new attitude about my role as a mom: it gave me permission to step into my role as a mother in a more proactive way.
But What If We’re Not Naturally Gifted Leaders?
Who do you influence? Maybe like me, you wear many different hats: mom… wife… friend… daughter… volunteer… or you’re leading a team through your work.
If you have influence with even one person, then you’re a leader.
This may sound strange to you. We typically think of leaders as being naturally gifted. In other words, leadership is something we either have or we don’t. There’s definitely truth in that some people have more natural leadership ability than others. However, regardless of our current leadership ability, we can always grow our leadership skills so that we can be more intentional about how we influencing the people in our circles.
6 Key Leadership Lessons To Increase Your Influence
Since that pivotal day at the leadership summit, I’ve studied and learned a lot more about leadership. Here are 6 key lessons that can help us as women be more intentional about being a positive influence on the people in our lives…
1. WE NEED TO LEAD OURSELVES FIRST
Since we have influence, which means we’re leaders, we are 100% responsible for our words and actions. As Elizabeth Kubler-Ross says,
“…we are solely responsible for our choices, and we have to accept the consequences of every deed, word, and thought throughout our lifetime.”
2. LEADERS FAIL AND THAT’S OKAY
Leaders step out into new territory and so they will fail at times.
Winston Churchill said that “success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
So, when we step out into new things, we may fail but we will fail trying. And not only that, but we’ll also learn from our failures and keep going.
3. “NO” IS A GOOD WORD
Saying “no” is good when we’re uncomfortable in situations or when we don’t like what’s happening or being said or asked of us. Further, it’s also a good word to accept from others when they’re unhappy with our actions or speech.
Psychologist Dr. Henry Cloud explains it like this in Changes That Heal:
“We must be able to say what is ‘not me’ in order to have a ‘me’… Our yes has no meaning if we never say no.”
4. EACH OF US HAS SOMETHING SPECIAL TO GIVE
God has put something valuable in each of us to share with the people around us and it’s up to us to seek Him and to do everything we can to pull all of that out that He’s put within us. It’s a gift that He’s given not just to me but to each one of you too.
5. JUDGING AND BLAMING OTHERS MAKES ME A POWERLESS LEADER
When we judge or blame others, it takes away all of our influence and renders us useless. Instead, we need to take complete responsibility for ourselves, just as novelist Paulo Coelho states:
“It’s always easy to blame others. You can spend your entire life blaming the world, but your successes or failures are entirely your own responsibility.”
6. LISTENING MORE AND SPEAKING LESS MAKES US EFFECTIVE LEADERS
Truly listening enables us to hear another person’s heart to understand them better so we can lead those who are following us more effectively. It also allows us to create an atmosphere where others feel a sense of comfort and safety… it’s safe for them to share, to think, to feel, to be. Listening creates understanding and safety for those we lead.
So if we want to learn how to influence those in our lives more effectively, let’s take Dr. Tawna Schmidt’s advice:
“You have more influence listening to people than telling them what to do. Stop. Listen. Learn.”
Who Do You Influence?
So, as John C. Maxwell says, leadership is simply influence. That’s it. It’s nothing more than that. And it’s nothing less than that.
Who do you lead? Who are the people in your circles who listen to you… who hear you… and who follow you?
I want to encourage every woman to step fearlessly into the leadership role that she’s been given (or do it afraid).
Take every opportunity to grow and take every opportunity you’re given to lead in order to understand the leadership role God has given you. That moment in the summit when John Maxwell told me that I was a leader and then really grasping that… was a game changer for me. And I hope understanding that you are a leader will change your perspective as well.
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