The most common word shared across most definitions of leadership is influence. The implication is, it is not just the bosses who make a real impact at work. Regardless of what level you are, if you’re seen as a go-getter, if you’re trusted because you’ve developed a track record of delivering results, and if people who make decisions look to your input before they do, YOU are being a leader. It’s also true that just because a person has a fancy title doesn’t mean that they are influential. In fact, they might just be taking up space!
Over the last three decades, I’ve been fortunate to have coached hundreds of influential leaders across thousands of hours of coaching conversations. My influential coaches have taught me that influence has a lot to do with getting things done and effecting change. Much of this has to do with a feeling of agency, the belief that you can positively impact outcomes regardless of the challenges being faced. Too many people, unfortunately, underestimate the agency they actually have, feeling powerless to influence people and situations, resigning themselves to be recipients of whatever fate has in store for them. They throw their hands up in the air and say, “What’s the use, I’m not in charge, so I’ll just wait to be told what my boss wants me to do.” People who carry this disposition—with a mindset that life happens to them and they have no influence over the outcomes—are prone to self-sabotage, prisoners of their own limiting thoughts. In short, victims. You don’t want to be that guy, right?