Seven Disciplines to Build Trust and Influence
Many people believe that leaders are the rare few at the upper echelons of a business or an organization, or someone with a fancy corner office. But the truth is a title or a position doesn’t make you a leader. Leadership is defined by an individual’s behavior. The most successful leaders do two things very well: they influence outcomes and inspire others. You can be a manager and not be a leader. You can also be a leader without being a manager.
Does this surprise you? Chances are that if you were to reflect upon the leaders you admire, they didn’t hold positional authority over you. They were just good people who did good things. Over time, they earned their influence through their consistency. Like a mentor who made a point of checking in with you on a routine basis to inquire how you’re doing or a colleague at your firm who is great to work with because they’re prepared and focused whenever you collaborate together.
You can distinguish yourself as a leader. It starts with recognizing that you don’t have to wait for someone to identify you as a leader before demonstrating leadership behaviors. You can choose to lead today. Here are seven disciplines to build trust and influence with others.
- Reflect upon your strengths as a leader. Seek to put yourself in positions where they’re maximized. If you’re a talented writer, this could be agreeing to write even more content for internal or external communications.
- Understand your self-defeating behaviors. Work to develop a plan to improve upon them, which could include hiring or partnering with people who have complementary talents.
- Consider your performance from other points of view. Are you credible in the eyes of others? What more can you be doing to ensure you’re meeting the expectations of others? When we only view our performance from our perspective, we miss out on opportunities to meet the needs of others.
- Be accountable for your actions and missteps. When things go poorly, do you step up and accept responsibility — or do you shirk it by ignoring the problem or passing along the blame? Influential leaders avoid the blame game and recognize that if they’re close enough to a problem, they likely had something to do with it. Rather than engage in the blame game, they roll up their sleeves and solve the problem regardless of who is at fault.
- Demonstrate consistency in your behavior so others know what they can expect from you. Over time, consistency inspires dependability.
- Keep a very narrow say–do gap. This is the space between your actions and words. The smaller the gap, the more trustworthy and predictable you become.
- Set the right example in thought, word and deed. When our attitude and behaviors are inspiring, people are moved to follow us.
These small but effective leadership disciplines are necessary to build trust and influence with others. When you demonstrate behaviors consistent with leadership, you position yourself as the go-to person in your environment. Opportunities are sure to follow.
That’s not to say that being a leader is easy. Like any other behaviors, it takes focus and attention to develop them. It’s also beneficial to work with others to develop these skills, which is why we worked with LMA to develop a book club for “Leading from the Front” and our soon-to-be published “SPARK.”
Thanks to LMA for featuring “Leading from the Front” and supporting this book club program throughout the association. Hopefully through your LMA Summer Book Club experience, you enjoyed talking about the leadership principles the book highlighted and, during the time between meetings, you were able to focus on building the skills that were presented. Courtney and I had great interactions with LMA members who appreciated the opportunity to focus on their leadership development in a supportive, collaborative environment.
Now that this season's club has wrapped up, we’d like to keep encouraging you to continue to grow as a leader. The more intentional effort you make to develop your leadership abilities, the quicker you’ll experience the benefits leadership can bring to your life and, of course, the lives of others.
The LMA Leadership Development Certificate program, developed through extensive industry research by the Lead Star team, is the best way to invest in your professional advancement in legal marketing. The program incorporates current research with experiential activities, providng legal marketing professionals with a unique perspective on their personal leadership style and tendencies. Join us today!
Angie Morgan is the co-founder of Lead Star, a leadership development consultancy that designs leadership programs for businesses and organizations. She’s the co-author of the best-selling book “Leading from the Front” and soon-to-be-published “SPARK.” Angie developed her leadership experiences during her service in the Marine Corps. She holds a B.A. and MBA from the University of Michigan.