Influential leadership is not something tangible, physical or material. Yet it’s real. You know when you are in the presence of it. Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Steve Jobs just to name a few.
There is no leadership without influence. You can have a leadership title, yet have no influence. How influential are you? Does your team listen to your every word with attention, openness and trust? Is your team inspired to take action simply by what you say and do?
Influence comes from the latin root “influere” meaning to flow in. When you are an influential leader, your words and intentions flow into another’s unconscious mind without resistance. Your words are not just accepted. Your words motivate. Your words change minds, attitudes and behaviors.
The BIG question is … How do you develop and increase your leadership influence? This big question has a big answer. In this first of 3 articles on this topic, let’s look at the easiest and quickest way to increase your leadership influence.
The Power of Influential Words & Language
What makes certain words or language particularly persuasive or influential?
Influential words bypass the reasoning or critical mind and into a person’s unconscious mind. When using these words, you avoid a person’s resistance or defenses to what you are communicating. You are speaking directly to the part of the brain that houses his/her memories, emotions and creativity.
When you gain such powerful access to one’s mind, you can lead people to where you want them to go. Because of such power, these words should be used only for positive intentions and never for manipulative reasons. Use these words wisely and only to help a person change and grow.
Given that caveat, let’s take a look at 5 power words that can change your capacity to lead.
- “IMAGINE …”
Anyone who has ever worked with me knows I use the word “imagine” often to help my clients achieve breakthroughs that once seemed impossible or improbable.
As children, we lived our lives through our imaginations. And it all seemed so real.
Whether we wanted to be a monkey, or fly to Paris, or find hidden treasures of gold, our imaginations could create a whole new world in our minds in a single moment. A world where there were no limits. A world where we could be or do anything we wanted. A world where the possibilities were endless.
When I use the word imagine with my clients, my intent is to take them beyond the boundary conditions of their thinking and create new realities, new possibilities that are not accessible through the conscious mind.
Leaders who know how to tap into the imaginations of others can move mountains in their organizations without much effort. The more you tap into others’ imaginations, the more successful you and they become.
Are you ready to increase your leadership influence … right now?
Then close your eyes and …
Imagine how good it feels as you tap into your employees’ imagination, creativity and inspiration with one simple word … imagine.
Imagine how good you will feel as you prove to yourself that you can be an influential leader simply with practice of one simple word … imagine.
Don’t wait till tomorrow. Start using this one powerful word now. Have fun with it!
Think back to those times when you were a child and you attempted to negotiate with your parents for extra money, or to stay out later, or to have a snack before meals. Do you remember what mom or dad said?
After 2-3 times of your mother/father turning you down, you probably said in a pleading tone …
But why, mom?
To which your mother said …
Because I said so.
If you were like me as a kid, you backed down after that. Why?
The word because assumes a cause effect relationship. For this reason, when the critical factor of your mind hears that word, it treats it as a cue to let the speaker through to your unconscious mind.
It’s been found in various studies that when you make a request followed by the word because (with a phrase), doing so will increase responsiveness to your request by as much as 50%.
That has huge implications to the business world In sales, negotiations, customer relations and, most of all, leadership. Let’s take a look at a few scenarios.
Delivering Corrective Feedback
Most leaders when giving corrective feedback simply make a request for a new behavior, like …
“Tom, you need to turn your cell phone off during meetings.”
Some employees will adhere. Others will resist, rebel or ignore. Let’s replay the conversation. This time using word because.
“Tom, you need to turn off your cell phone during meetings because others find it disruptive and a distraction. Please watch it going forward.”
Explaining why the behavior needs to be changed (because) causes the recipient of the feedback to see the damage caused.
“Our goal is to answer all customer calls within 60 minutes.”
“We will always answer all customer calls within 60 minutes because we have found that doing so, increases customer retention and that will increase the frequency of bonuses.”
That is persuasive. Just stating your goals does little for employee motivation. Helping employees to see the why behind the goal – for them and the company – does.
“,We’re going to have an awesome month, team!”
“We’re going to have an awesome month because we have the best company culture in the industry, our customer returns are at an all time low, and our sales team is on the fast track to closing more business.”
It’s great to believe in people. It’s more motivating, however, to tell them why you believe in them.
(always use in place of “but”)
And – when used with intention – is one of the most powerful, persuasive words in the English language.
Let’s look at one specific leadership application of this word that can eliminate all resistance, even in the toughest of conversations with your employees. That application is using and in place of the word but.
It’s a leader’s responsibility to give honest feedback – even corrective feedback – to its employees. Unfortunately, many leaders use the word but in delivering their corrective feedback.
“You did a great job with this report, but it was filled with many misspellings.”
But is one of the most dangerous words to use in any conversation. It negates everything you said before the word but. In the above examples, it means – you did not really think that person did a great job.
Now eliminate the word but and replace it with and. Notice the difference in tone, the ability to receive the feedback without resistance, as well as the ability to add a follow-on.
“You did a great job with this report and it was filled with many misspellings. So let’s get started in cleaning up those misspellings to make it even better.”
This is one of my personal favorite power words because simply saying the word will cause the listener to mentally process what you brought up. Aware … and related words like realize or experience … are important additions to your influence arsenal because everything that follows those words is presupposed to be true.
Let’s take a look at some powerful leadership examples.
“You are probably already aware of the fact that when you practice our company value of respect, you will create comradery with your teammates.
“Are you starting to experience how easily you can use these words to become a more influential leader?”
With the word now, you direct one’s thinking and focus to the present time. In your leadership role, let’s look at some examples where you are implanting, at the unconscious level, a thought of positive change in the here and now.
“As you take a few minutes to collect your thoughts, notice how effortlessly solutions come to you NOW.”
“By NOW, you may be wondering what other changes can you make with the power of words.”
While, by no means, are these the only power words that leaders can use to influence. The above words, however, are unique in their ability to bypass resistance and create positive change easily and naturally.
The most influential people know how to use words and language intentionally to inspire, motivate and win the hearts and minds of others, even their biggest opponents.
The next time you give feedback to your employee … the next time you want to inspire your team to follow your vision … the next time you negotiate a big deal with a potential customer, imagine how good you will feel because you used your power words and achieved your desired outcome. You can start experiencing those good feelings now.
Denise Corcoran is known by her clients as a Leadership Game-Changer. She assists growth-seeking companies develop game-changing leadership teams and organizations that drive double and triple digit growth … by design.
Learn how to master your Inner Game of Leadership, by downloading Denise’s free report – Wired to Win Big: 7 Inner Leadership Game Strategies For Rising to the Top and Staying There. Connect with Denise at her Blog, LinkedIn and Twitter.
If you would like to accelerate your leadership game and transform your performance, email Denise with any questions or request a complimentary Leadership Strategy Session at Denise@EmpoweredBusiness.com.
Excerpt: There is no leadership without influence. Learn the quickest way of increasing your leadership influence with 5 simple words.