The ability to influence others is a benefit to any leader. In fact, influencing followers to move in a certain direction or act in a certain way constitutes a major element of what leadership is about. Leaders need to motivate followers to work toward a common goal to avoid fragmented work areas and to optimize the organization's talent and resources.
Influence is not just an advantage, but a necessity for leaders trying to motivate or spark change through charismatic or transformational styles of leadership. Leaders with these styles try to inspire others toward a goal by conveying energy, enthusiasm and optimism. To achieve success in leading employees through periods of transition, transformational leaders must be able to influence workers to overcome the common fear of change.
One critical responsibility of a leader is to motivate workers to complete important tasks in a timely manner. In manufacturing, for instance, leaders need to influence workers to believe that completing production on time to meet deadlines is beneficial to both them and the organization. In a customer-facing sales and service business, such as retail, leaders must influence employees to not only complete tasks, but to produce sales or provide service up to certain standards.
Another key to building and maintaining a successful organization is developing other leaders and high-performing employees. This requires that a leader is capable of influencing his employees to set goals and to determine effective strategies to help achieve them. He often must encourage and influence employees that they are capable of performing better and achieving more than they believe. This type of influence on employees has tremendous long-term benefits to the organization as it helps develop future leaders and improve overall performance and production at each level of the company.
Alignment with Vision
One of the most critical reasons leaders need to influence is to get every department and employee aligned with an organization's mission and vision. This influence means helping employees to see the bigger picture and getting them to buy into the value of everyone being on the same page. This alignment is challenging to create for a leader with limited influence because people naturally tend to focus on how their activities affect them and the people closest to them.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.