Have you ever gotten “faked-out”? Confidently gone forward with something only to realize you mistook a counterfeit for the real-deal? It happens all the time in sports: linebackers lunging at a runners zig instead of the zag, centers getting pump-faked into fouling a shooter, and batters swinging hard at curve ball they thought was coming straight over the plate. Fake money? Yea, it happens.
Leaders also get faked-out all the time. Specifically, faked-out with regard to 4 specific leadership activities. As a leader, if you don’t learn to recognize the difference between activity and influence, your going to get faked out and the results can be unfortunate and far reaching.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taught a class, given a presentation or had a crucial conversation and thought I really “had” someone or a group. I was confident that what I had said or done had influenced their perspective, learning or behavior. Their body language was engaged, they were focused, and sometimes even enthralled (believe it or not). However, when speaking with some of them shortly afterward I realized few if any remembered what I said, much less were moved by it!
Enter Jim Rohn. I’m loving listening to Jim these days and doing a lot of it. He had such a great ability to connect with and persuade others with his sincerity and common-sense wisdom, wit and approach. In the most recent audio cast I listened to, he compared and contrasted two key activities that leaders easily get “faked-out” by. After thinking further, I came up with two of my own to round out the list of 4 below. The former is the counterfeit activity, the latter is what leaders are really seeking to do, and that is influence.
- Communication vs Connection- This one is easy enough to understand, much harder to get right. As the saying goes, “they don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” You have to really care if you want to connect and influence.
- Presentation vs Persuasion- A well-done dog and pony show may look good to some and feel good to you, but it doesn’t influence. What does influence are well chosen words mixed with measured emotion that can move hearts as well as heads.
- Reach vs Relationship- A mile wide and an inch deep? Who cares. While numbers are good, relationships are what influences people to respond regularly and with loyalty. Yes, relationships can be built virtually but it still has to be real.
- Action vs Accomplishment- Just because your in motion doesn’t mean you’re going anywhere or getting anything done. What gets done also has to be what matters in order to influence, otherwise your just spinning your wheels.
Don’t get me wrong, all four activities listed above are valuable leadership competencies. Leaders need to cultivate their skill and maximize their potential in each of these. But to not get faked-out, a leader also has to remember that the activities in an of themselves don’t necessarily lead to influence. Just because you’ve achieved or engaged in the former….perhaps even masterfully….doesn’t mean you’ve accomplished the latter; the activities are just the tools, influence is the outcome.
You simply can’t afford to get faked-out when it comes Influence; ignorance here is NOT bliss. We all get faked-out some of the time, but none of us can afford to get faked-out all the time.
So, how can you know if you are simply engaged in the activities of a leader or whether your really influencing those you’re seeking to lead? Simply being aware is a start. The other is to tune-in, get in touch with those your seeking to lead and pay attention. As John Maxwell says, if no one is following (or being influenced), then it’s probably a good sign your just taking a walk (or being active in this case).
What do you need to do in your specific setting and circumstance to see to make sure you’re actually influencing those you lead? Please leave a comment and share what you’ve learned here or what you need to know.