Her birth name was Agnes Bojaxhiu. She never had a net worth that made the Forbes List or invented anything. Yet her name is known all over the world as an influencer who changed the lives of many who were overlooked and seen as insignificant. The world knew her as Mother Teresa and her care and cause for the poor made her one of the most influential people who walked this earth.
In whatever sphere we are in, influence carries weight. Leadership expert Dr. John C. Maxwell, defines leadership as influence. If influence is at the core of leadership, it is equally fitting that we learn some of the intangible currencies that make influence the substance that leadership owes its success to:
- Trust: In any relationship whether business or personal, there is a common underlying question, “Can I trust you?” Trust, is the bedrock of any relationship, and no relationship grows to become what it was meant to be without trust. Trust is the proof that care is evident. It is the medium of exchange for transparency. Trust allows another person to exist through thoughtful listening and empathy. Employees, who trust their employer, produce at a higher level. They operate in a healthy work environment where they can learn, grow, and even take ownership for mistakes instead of covering them up or creating a cycle of blame. Autonomy and flexibility reveal that an organization trusts its employees. Furthermore, trustworthy employees will always stand out from the crowd. When customers trust a business to provide quality products and services without exorbitant prices, repeat business will be the result. The customers will also become the number one marketers to grow the business through word of mouth. Simply put, nobody give their best when distrust is prevalent. Please be warned, trust, like glass is fragile and must be guarded to ensure it is never broken. Trust creates the expectation over time that you are a safe and secure place for others. As people trust you their confidence in you rises and so does your influence.
- Integrity: Integrity is the consistent expression of the values you hold through your actions. It clears the picture by making people sure of what they get when they get you. Do you integrate your core values as part of your everyday life? Dr. Henry Cloud, author of the book Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality uses the example of a boat leaving a wake in the ocean to describe integrity. He compares this to the idea that we all leave a wake as we go through life. On one side, we leave a wake of what we have accomplished, while on the other how we related with people. Our level of integrity is discovered by looking behind to see the trail we have left. Are we leaving people and places better or bleeding and wounded? Success and significance should never come at the cost of your integrity. If you lose everything, never lose your integrity. Just like a tree, after being cut down, can grow back due to its healthy root system, so can you comeback from any loss if you maintain your integrity.
- Service: Having grown up in Kenya East Africa, I was drawn to the last chapter of Daniel Pink’s best seller, To Sell is Human. In the chapter titled, Serve, he uses a common form of public transportation in Kenya called matatus as the backdrop for a research study aimed at reducing accidents on the road. A matatu is similar to the size of a minivan but seats fourteen people. Daniel Pink uses the word, “terrified” when he describes the experience of a matatu ride. I can relate. In the research, stickers reading, “Hey, if he’s driving recklessly, will you arrive? BE AWAKE. BE STEADY. SPEAK UP!” were placed in some of the matatus in direct view of passengers. The stickers yielded a reduction of claims for serious accidents by more than 50 percent! The drivers interviewed attributed the persuasive influence of the passengers for their change of driving behavior. The passengers became a reminder to the drivers that they were offering a service that had life implications. We should never lose sight of the responsibility that comes with service. When we take service as a priority, we speak the language that attracts others and allows trust and integrity to grow. Just like service to a car improves its overall performance and longevity, so does serving others play a crucial role in improving the quality of life because of this simple progression: When you serve, you touch hearts, and change lives.
Final thought: These currencies of influence will work for you in any environment and will never suffer inflation. They will endure in any depression and become the relational equity you need to thrive not just survive. Grow them and they will pay you back in ways unimaginable.
Keep on Keeping On!