My apologies! A while back, I wrote a blog titled It’s the Box Top that introduced the “Big 4 for Leaders”—things that all great leaders do extremely well. Then I left you hanging by only talking about the first one! In that blog, I spoke of visionary leaders and their ability to describe the jigsaw puzzle box top so that everyone can see the end state and see themselves as a piece of the puzzle and see their contribution to the larger picture. (The box top really is more important than getting the border and corners!) For review, here are the Big 4:
- They know where they are going. (VISION)
- They are able to persuade others to follow. (INFLUENCE)
- They meet people’s needs, get them unstuck. (SERVE)
- They grow successors. (DEVELOP)
So let’s talk about INFLUENCE: Leaders being able to persuade others to go with them. Looks like leaders are in sales!
A short story: Let me take you back to 1968 and the Mexico City Olympic Games by using an excerpt from The Flip Side, a New York Times Best Seller by Flip Flippen and Chris White. There was a high jumper who won the gold that year named Dick Fosbury—the “inventor” of the Fosbury Flop.
Dick was arguably the least athletic competitor at the Mexico Games. Scrawny physique, average speed, with a modest vertical jump. His only competitive advantage came from his unique jumping style—an ungainly backward flop that appeared to risk a broken neck on every attempt.
Every coach he worked with urged him to abandon the weird technique that flouted every bit of conventional wisdom about his event.
Coaches and parents called for banning the flop as too dangerous, ignoring the fact that pole vaulters were landing on their necks and shoulders from much greater heights. “The coaches and elite jumpers just had too much invested in straddling,” Fosbury speculate later. “They just couldn’t change.”
But he stuck with it! On October 20, 1968, Dick Fosbury became the gold medalist and U.S. and Olympic record holder in the high jump at 2.24 Meters (7 ft 4 1/4 inches)! In the Munich Olympics four years later, all three medalists used the Fosbury Flop. In 1980, 13 of the 16 finalists in the event flopped. In fact, of all of the Olympic medalists from 1972 to 2000, 34 out of 36 flopped. Now that is influence!
So how do the great ones influence others? What does it look like? What you may not know about Dick Fosbury was that he loved high jumpers, was a relationship builder, and a great coach. After he won the gold, many joined his Fosbury high jumping school because they loved hanging with Dick. He loved ‘em and got their buy in. Many went on to win Olympic medals because of his influence.
Here are just a couple of things great leaders do to influence:
- They Get Buy In People buy into the person before buying into their leadership. Positional leadership is the lowest form. You can have a great cause with a great plan and still not have people with you. Buy in requires a relationship.
- They Love Their Followers “You’ve got to love ‘em before you can lead ‘em.” When you love your followers genuinely and correctly, they’ll respect and follow you through many changes. The more people trust the leader and know he/she cares, the more willing they will be to follow and take direction.
Reminds me of an old proverb: “He who thinketh he leadeth and hath no one following him is only taking a walk.”
I hope you have a crowd walking with you!