Stacy stood at the front of the room and raised her voice above the crowd of students gathered there.
"May I have your attention please!"
The dull roar of the crowd started to subside but then quickly swelled back to it's original levels.
"Excuse me! I need everyone's attention!!"
Nobody was listening. No one was paying attention. Stacy was getting frustrated.
Have you ever been in this type of situation? You are the leader (whether by name or by position or by your own choice) and you have to get the group moving in a certain direction. The only problem is that people aren't listening to you. You aren't influencing anyone.
One of the core leadership characteristics I encourage student leaders to develop is their ability to influence others. Your influence will be the fuel and motivation behind your leadership. If you have it, people will begin to trust you and then they'll begin to follow you. If you don't have it, you'll soon find yourself standing in front of a room full of people with no one listening to you even though you're shouting at them.
One of the first things I tell student leaders about gaining and growing influence amongst their peers is that they have to make the first move. They must find a way to do something for someone else before they ask them to do something for them. I tell students that they must do the hard work of building a bridge with someone before they can ever ask that person to cross it with them.It starts with you (the leader) and what you do (the way you add value to someone else).
Before you rush to the front of the room because you are the one in the student leadership position, take some time to earn the trust and gain the influence of those whom you wish to lead. You can do this by:
- Serving someone.
- Encouraging someone.
- Listening to someone.
- Helping someone.
- Affirming someone.
- Empowering someone.
- Giving to someone.
- Making a sacrifice for someone.
Do you see the common thread that runs through each of those tasks in the list? They all focus on meeting the needs of someone else before you seek to accomplish anything through someone else.
So step away from the microphone for a moment. Move back from the front of the room and start in the back of the room by approaching different people and simply asking: How may I help you?