This piece on authentic influence is written by Kimberly Davis, an acclaimed instructor of ours who teaches Authentic Influence, Communication, and Executive Presence in our certificates of management and leadership programs, the National Hispanic Corporate Council’s Corporate Executive Development Program, and the George W. Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative Fellowship Program, among others. Kimberly is the Founder/Director of OnStage Leadership, a Dallas-based Authentic Leadership organization. Her work in Authentic Leadership is an outgrowth of her early career as a professional actress and her experience in Hospitality Sales and Destination Management. She is a certified and accredited executive coach.
In today’s business environment organizations need leaders who can communicate and influence authentically to enhance their own leadership skills, increase productivity, inspire employee engagement and develop tomorrow’s leaders.
According to Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic and professor at Harvard Business School, Authentic Influence lies in the eye of the beholder. In their eyes, heart and mind, “is the leader or influencer genuine, worthy of trust, reliance and belief?” How leaders “show up” with the people in their organizations can make the difference between organizational and personal success and failure.
In order to Authentically Influence, there are three areas of concentration that need to be working in concert with each other:
- You must become a person of influence (Work on Self)
- You must fully understand, without judgment, the people you wish to influence (Understand Others)
- You must be taking consistent constructive action (Actions to Influence)
Mastering Authentic Influence begins with understanding yourself and working to grow yourself, both professionally and personally. Knowing why you care about leading and impacting others gives you a sense of purpose and allows you to filter out the important issues and concerns from those that are unimportant.
Most of us have been influenced by someone who made a powerful impact on our personal and professional lives and had the ability to share authentic influence, guided by reliability and trustworthiness. It’s likely this individual worked consistently to understand you and others, and took meaningful, influencing actions. These actions included leading by example, providing honest feedback in a genuine, constructive way, focusing on the impact they had on you to help you move forward, guiding and supporting you and providing follow-up. They cared about you and you trusted them.
Trust is an important component of Authentic Leadership. An effective leader influences others by building trust, communicating benefits, sharing his/her story and preparing to make an impact. The keys to generating trust include:
- Lead by example
- Keep your agreements
- Create a feedback loop
- Share information, including personal experiences as a leader
- Step into their shoes to create a connection