The True Measure of Leadership Is Influence – Nothing More, Nothing Less.
If you don’t have influence, you will never be able to lead others. So how do you measure influence? Here’s a story to answer that question. In late summer of 1997, people were jolted by two events that occurred less than a week apart: the deaths of Princess Diana and Mother Teresa. On the surface, the two women could not have been more different. One was a tall, young, glamorous princess from England who circulated in the highest society. The other, a Nobel Prize recipient, was a small, elderly Catholic nun born in Albania, who served the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, India.
What’s incredible is that their impact was remarkably similar. In a 1996 poll published by the London Daily Mail, Princess Diana and Mother Teresa were voted in first and second places as the world’s two most caring people. That’s something that doesn’t happen unless you have a lot of influence. How did someone like Diana come to be regarded in the same way as Mother Teresa? The answer is that she demonstrated the power of the Law of Influence.
I remembered the quote by Colin Powell that “You have achieved excellence as a leader when people will follow you everywhere if only out of curiosity.”
People have so many misconceptions about leadership. When they hear that someone has an impressive title or an assigned leadership position, they assume that he is a leader. Sometimes that’s true. But titles don’t have much value when it comes to leading. True leadership cannot be awarded, appointed or assigned. It comes only from influence, and that can’t be mandated. It must be earned. The only thing a title can buy is a little time – either to increase your level of influence with others or to erase it.
I personally learned the Law of Influence when I accepted my first job out of college at Core Emballage Limited, Ahmedabad. I went in with all the right credentials. I was hired as an Executive Assistant to Chairman, which meant that I possessed the position and title of leader in that organization. I recognized that hard work was required to gain influence in any organization and to earn the right to become the leader.
According to my experience with different organizations, leadership is complicated. It has many facets: respect, experience, emotional strength, people skills, discipline, vision, momentum, timing - the list goes on. As you can see, many factors that come into play in leadership are intangibles. That's why leaders require so much seasoning to be effective. That's why only now, at age 30, do I feel that I am truly beginning to understand the many aspects of leadership with clarity.
As long as a person doesn't know what he doesn't know, he doesn't grow.
Most people fail to recognize the value of leadership. They believe that leadership is only for a few - for the people at the top of the corporate ladder. They have no idea of the opportunities they're passing up when they don't learn to lead. This point was driven home for me when a college president shared with me that only a handful of students signed up for a leadership course offered by the school. Why? Only a few thoughts of themselves as leaders. If they had known that leadership is influence, and that in the course of each day most individuals usually try to influence at least four other people, their desire might have been sparked to learn more about the subject. It's unfortunate because as long as a person doesn't know what he doesn't know, he doesn't grow.
- Post written by Deepak Bhatt, 21.11.2012, 12:00 p.m.