Why is influential leadership crucial today? As business, technology, and society evolve rapidly, we need leaders who inspire, motivate, and guide others towards success, leaving a lasting impact on their organizations and driving meaningful change.
In this article, we’ll uncover seven habits of highly influential leaders, differentiating between a boss with authority and a true leader who transcends their role to inspire excellence. Leadership isn’t a role; it’s an attitude and actions reflecting the ability to inspire, guide, and connect with others.
We’ll explore these habits through the lens of exemplary leaders from history and the present day. By learning from their examples and embracing these habits, you can develop the qualities needed to influence, inspire, and succeed in our ever-changing world.
We will delve into seven habits of highly influential leaders, relating each habit to an exemplary leader from history or the present day. By studying their examples and embracing these habits, you too can cultivate the qualities that lead to influence, inspiration, and lasting success in a world that needs exceptional leaders more than ever.
1. Clear Vision and Purpose: Steve Jobs
It may seem cliché to discuss Steve Jobs when talking about influential leaders, but the fact remains that he was one of the most visionary and impactful leaders in recent history. As the co-founder of Apple, Jobs possessed an unwavering vision for the company, which was to create innovative products that would change the world. His purpose was to make technology accessible, beautiful, and user-friendly.
Jobs’ relentless pursuit of his vision and his ability to inspire others to share in it led Apple to become one of the most successful companies in history. Although his leadership style has been criticized at times, his visionary thinking and unyielding commitment to excellence have had a lasting impact on the tech industry and beyond.
As a leader, it’s essential to have a clear vision and purpose for your team or organization, and to communicate it effectively to inspire and drive progress.
2. Emotional Intelligence: Oprah Winfrey
Emotional intelligence is crucial for influential leaders, and Oprah Winfrey exemplifies this skill. Throughout her career, Oprah has built trust and rapport with her guests and audience by empathizing, listening, and adapting her communication style. Her ability to read people and understand their emotions has made her a powerful figure in the media landscape. By cultivating emotional intelligence, you can foster trust, inspire loyalty, and create a harmonious work environment. Learning from Oprah’s example will help you develop the ability to understand your team’s emotions and lead them effectively.
3. Tactical Empathy Negotiation: Cris Voss
Influential leaders must possess effective negotiation skills, and Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator and author of “Never Split the Difference,” has become a leading authority on the subject. Voss’s experience in high-stakes negotiation situations has honed his skills and provided valuable insights into the art of negotiation.
Voss’s approach to negotiation involves establishing rapport, understanding the other party’s perspective, and using tactical empathy to influence outcomes. By employing techniques such as mirroring, labeling emotions, and creating calibrated questions, Voss focuses on mutually beneficial solutions while maintaining control of the negotiation process.
As a leader, enhancing your negotiation skills helps resolve conflicts, build alliances, and achieve goals. By learning from Chris Voss’s expertise, you can develop the ability to approach negotiations with empathy, understanding, and a focus on benefiting all parties involved.
4. Effective Communication: Marie Forleo
Effective communication is a key skill for any influential leader. Marie Forleo, a successful entrepreneur, writer, and online educator, is renowned for her ability to communicate complex ideas in a simple, engaging, and accessible manner. Through her various platforms, including MarieTV and the B-School program, Forleo has empowered millions of individuals and entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and improve their lives. Her genuine, relatable communication style fosters deep connections with her audience and has played a significant role in her success. As a leader, developing strong communication skills will enable you to share your vision, build rapport with your team, and effectively address any challenges that may arise.
5. Empowerment and Delegation: Richard Branson
Highly influential leaders understand the value of empowering and delegating tasks to their team members. Sir Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, is known for his ability to inspire and empower his employees. He frequently delegates tasks, trusting his team to make decisions and take ownership of their work. This approach has allowed the Virgin Group to expand into various industries and create a culture of innovation and creativity. By empowering and delegating, you’ll enable your team to grow, take on more responsibility, and contribute their unique skills and perspectives to the organization’s success.
6. Humility and Authenticity: Ken Frazier
Humility and authenticity are essential qualities for influential leaders, and Ken Frazier, the former CEO of Merck & Co., demonstrated both when he took a stand against then-President Donald Trump. Frazier resigned from Trump’s American Manufacturing Council in response to the president’s remarks following the violent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
Frazier’s actions showcase his commitment to authentic leadership and his willingness to stand up for his beliefs, even when facing criticism from a powerful figure. By doing so, he displayed true humility and put the greater good above personal interests or potential consequences.
As a leader, embracing humility and authenticity will help you earn the trust and respect of your team and stakeholders. By following Ken Frazier’s example, you can become a more genuine leader, willing to take a stand for what you believe in and lead with integrity.
7. Resilience and Perseverance: Elon Musk
Lastly, resilience and perseverance are vital for any influential leader. Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has faced numerous setbacks and challenges throughout his career, yet he has continued to push forward, ultimately achieving groundbreaking successes in the electric vehicle and space exploration industries. Musk’s ability to bounce back from failures and maintain his drive to achieve ambitious goals is a testament to the power of resilience and perseverance. As a leader, embracing these qualities will enable you to navigate challenges, learn from setbacks, and ultimately achieve long-term success.
By studying the habits of influential leaders we can gain valuable insights into the qualities that drive success. By embodying these seven habits—clear vision and purpose, emotional intelligence, empathy-driven negotiation, effective communication, empowerment and delegation, humility and authenticity, and resilience and perseverance—you can elevate your leadership, drive unprecedented success and make a lasting impact on your organization and the people you lead.