What Is Your Lever of Influence?

“Conversations are the work of a leader and the workhorses of an organization.  While no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career, a company, a relationship, or a life – any single conversation can.”  -Susan Scott

The true weight and depth of any leader will be found and measured in their influence.  Without it, a leader and their leadership will often be found to be lacking and hollow.  Leadership influence is not acquired haphazardly, it requires intentional and purposeful thought and action.

Unfortunately, the daily hustle and bustle required for leading can enable us to overlook those very same levers that create and increase our influence.

Simply stated.  We often fail to intentionally utilize one of the best levers we have at our disposal…

The conversation.

Can you think of any other influence lever that engages the adults in our organizations over one thousand times each day, every day?

A better question is, for those thousands of conversations and opportunities for connection, how many of them are intentional and purposeful?  If not many is the answer, then why may be a question worth considering, why is this not a lever that you are utilizing as an influence builder for your leadership?

“We effect change by engaging in robust conversations with ourselves, our colleagues, our customers, our family, the world.  Leadership should effectively be looking at changing the world – one conversation at a time.”

Very seldom are we intentional with our conversations.  Though we know they serve as the spark to ignite the fires of change and innovation in our organizations.  We fan those same fires of change and innovation by intentionally engaging these conversations, whenever and wherever possible, at all levels of the organization, inside and out.

Well-placed conversations provide the impetus to move the vision and goals of the organization forward.  Conversations provide the necessary transparency and understanding around change, they create the environment and atmosphere that allow for change and innovation to grow and expand.  Conversations create clarity preceding the actual steps forward.

“Leaders must have conversations that interrogate reality, provoke learning, tackle tough challenges and enrich relationships.”  “Our very lives succeed or fail gradually, then suddenly, one conversation at a time.”

We are not defined by every conversation that we engage in, yet, we could be much more intentional with the conversations that we do engage in.   Conversations that are as much about listening as they are about being heard.  Conversations that allow our leadership to be much more authentic and vulnerable.  Conversations that let people know we are all in.

“Intimacy is required in conversation now – at home and in the workplace.  We must answer the big questions in our organizations.  What are the questions that need posing?  What is real?  What is honest?  What is quality?  What is value?”  

Every conversation has the ability to provide and/or gain clarity for those immersed in the process.  Just as they can lead you towards or away from the goals and vision for the organization.

As author Susan Scott so aptly states, the conversation is not about creating the relationship, it is the relationship.  Conversations not only increase our influence, they increase our relationships.  “Our conversations either enhance our relationships, flatline them, or take them down.”

Consider being more intentional about your conversations if your aim is to increase your influence, your relationships, and the overall trust factor in your organization.  Deep, authentic conversations are the path to the change and innovation necessary to move our organizations forward.  Which causes us to consider…

“What are the conversations you’ve been unable or unwilling to have – with your boss, colleague, employee, spouse, parent, child; or yourself – that, if you were able to have, might change everything?”

What conversations will you have today?

(Quotes in bold are taken from Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott.)


3 thoughts on “What Is Your Lever of Influence?

  1. Another excellent post David. I have always stated that when teachers engage in professional dialogue, great things will happen. That same statement applies to educational leaders as well. Intentional conversations build authentic relationships and that is key to any organization. Well said!!!

  2. Great article. I’ve really enjoyed the way it is written. Glad to see you mentioned that influence is gained in conversation through listening as well as talking. To take this further I often find that leaders state their view or accept other peoples without exploring the thought processes behind these views. Leaders should be encouraged more to share their thought processes leading up to a view and inquire into other peoples. This leads to assumptions being highlighted and differences in beliefs and values becoming visible. All leading to a more productive and authentic discussion.

  3. I like it, David.

    The notion that you need to be intentional about conversations is one that I think a lot of principals push to the side. Maybe they’re too busy? Maybe they realize that conversations may take them — or their teachers — to uncomfortable places? Maybe because conversations take time and ain’t nobody has time in today’s schools?

    Reminds me of a quote that I read recently:

    “If someone is worth talking to, they’re also worth listening to.”

    Not sure where it comes from — I don’t have the source in front of me — but the point was simple: You can learn from EVERY conversation if you’re willing to have them.

    Rock on,

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