Becoming an Influential Leader

Becoming an Influential Leader

What is an influential leader and how can I become one?  How and Why do people follow me, create a workplace where people want to work, and go the extra mile? How do I get my staff to work harder and make that extra phone call? How do I develop cohesive teams? Ultimately, the climate and culture is due to the leader.

These are the right questions to ask if you want to be an influential leader.  Look around, who’s following? What does your climate or culture look like?

For there to be meaning, influential leadership is critical.  We are expected to influence our teams, clients, donors, and stakeholders to be successful.  Everything we do, we depend on our ability to influence those around us.  From my own experiences and from training and coaching other leaders, I have identified 4 qualities that make an influential leader.  Embrace these qualities to develop and influence others positively.

4 Qualities of an Influential Leader:


1)    Be authentic and real.

Most of us immediately say, “yes, I am authentic and real,” but most of the time, we are not the same people at home as we are in our professional lives.  We are trying to be someone we’re not and we can be fake and very surface. Ask yourself, “Am I putting myself out there for people to see my vulnerability and do people see who I really am?”  A lot of people shield and protect themselves for fear that others will see who they really. People can see right through this and they sense that you are not genuine or authentic.  In order to build a real connection and trust with others, authenticity and be real. Take a risk and put yourself out there so your people know who you really are.  People want relationships in the workplace and in building this trust you will have an effect on others like never before.

2)    Put yourself on the line.

If you have the experience, success, wisdom, and knowledge in your field and a track record of success and influence, then put yourself on the line.  During my 27-year career of coaching college basketball, I gained incredible experience through mistakes and my successes. The failures are important to share with others because people relate to those and will connect with you. Talking about mistakes is putting yourself out there so others can learn from you.  No one is perfect and most can relate to this. By putting yourself on the line, you will create a connection with your teams and people that will create a positive culture of being able to take risks and innovation.

3)    Get uncomfortable.

Getting uncomfortable is growth and opening doors of opportunity.  Let people see this side of you, “I can’t let people see my weaknesses or show my emotions.”  Are you uncomfortable putting it on the line, “What if I say the wrong thing?” “What if I’m too assertive?” You must get uncomfortable to be an influential leader and create that type of climate for your people.  Oddly enough, this is when others start to get comfortable with you as their leader and want to join your team.  They see you as a positive leader and they will want to be a part of what is happening.  Get uncomfortable developing deep relationships.  Being influential is about taking that extra step and digging deeper to build those relationships.

4)    Show your people that you care.

When you show you care, you develop stronger relationships, trust and the ability to effectively provide constructive criticism.  You will be able say how you feel and ask for more, but they must first know that you care about them as people. Show support, champion your people, and communicate that accountability and successful results are expected.


At one point in my career, someone came up to me and mentioned that people were afraid to disappoint me, they wanted to please and make me happy.  I was tough and driven, people were afraid to come to me and they didn’t want to let me down.  At first, this bothered me, but I realized these people became successful and reached the Next Level in their careers. Leaders put people in a situation where they can leverage their strengths, create a culture of inclusiveness where people want to lean on each other because they know you care.


Influential leaders shape their organizations and the people around them. People follow these type of leaders because they want to be a part of a team and culture of positivity and success.  It’s important to understand that being an influential leader is not the everyday tasks and processes, but it’s the emotional perspective where the greatest impact of influence a leader has on their people and climate.

This topic is critical in developing positive leaders and a culture of well-being. If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear them.