This acrostic sometimes appears as a verb, i.e. INFLUENCE but I prefer the noun version, INFLUENCER. The noun version puts more personalized action into the acrostic and multiplies its impact significantly. Acrostics can help us direct our attention to critical behaviors we need to script to actually make meaningful personal change that sticks. John Maxwell and Jim Dornan, no strangers to facilitating change that works, have done a wonderful job in focusing in on the 10 core behaviors and attributes of a highly effective influencer also commonly known a leader. In fact, leadership is authentic influence that creates value. The INFLUENCER acrostic provides a powerful framework for embracing influence more as something that you earn rather than something that you are entitled to.
Main Idea: Builds relationships on trust! To have integrity with people, you commit yourself to developing strong character, pay attention to the little things and most importantly, you do what you should do before you do what you want to do. The bottom line is you can bend your actions to conform to your principles, or you can bend your principles to conform to your actions. People trust you when they know you will do the former and resist the latter. Trust is the glue holds people and relationships together. Philip Brooks on integrity –“Character is made in the small moments of our lives.”
Main Idea: Cares about people as individuals! The essence of nurturing is to genuinely be concerned for others and be focused on their growth and independence. As human relations expert Les Giblin put it, “You can’t make the other person feel important in your presence if you secretly feel that he is a nobody.” We nurture people by focusing on giving rather than getting. Differentiate yourself by consistently giving in the areas of love, respect, sense of security, recognition, and encouragement.
Main Idea: Believes in people! While having faith in people is an essential quality of an influencer, it is a scarce commodity today. In addition to people not having faith in themselves they do not have someone who has faith in them. The essence of this dimension of influencing is not to persuade them to think more highly of you, but rather to persuade them to think more highly of themselves. As German statesman Konrad Adenauer observed: “We all live under the same sky, but we don’t all have the same horizon.”
Main Idea: Values what others have to say! Listening is wanting to hear. When we don’t pay attention to what others have to say, we are sending an often not so subtle message that we don’t value them. As a good listener you are able to connect with others on more levels and develop stronger, deeper relationships because you are meeting a need. Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, advised, “You can make more friends in two weeks by becoming a good listener than you can in two years trying to get other people interested in you.”
Main Idea: Sees from their point of view! The ability to understand people has the potential to impact every aspect of your life, especially your ability to communicate with others. Self-centeredness, often the key stumbling block to understanding others, is simply the tendency of people to put their own interests first. The key antidote for self-centeredness is to strive to see things from other people’s perspective. Art Mortell shared this perspective when addressing a group of sales people, “Whenever I am losing at chess, I consistently get up and stand behind my opponent and see the board from his side. Then I start to discover the stupid moves I have made because I can see it from his perspective. The salesperson’s challenge is to see the world from the prospect’s viewpoint.”
Main Idea: Helps others become bigger! To be an influencer of people you need make a positive impact by coming alongside them and get involved in their lives to raise their level of living, increase their capacity for growth and ultimately their potential for success. If you want to do more for others you have to become more developed yourself. I am reminded about the famous quote, “The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance. It is the illusion of knowledge.” Always strive to help others be the best version of themselves.
Main Idea: Assists others through difficulties! The reality is that no matter how much you help people enlarge themselves and develop their potential, they will still face obstacles and problems in their personal and professional lives. As an influencer you help people identify and navigate a course toward their destination. Leroy Eims in his book Be the Leader You Were Meant to Be put it very well, “A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than other see, and who sees before others do.”
Main Idea: Initiates positive relationships! Connecting is about opening a channel of communication by paying attention to what people value and need. Understanding and more importantly accepting what people value and need is a prerequisite for developing a “make a difference” mindset. Anytime you don’t believe you can make a difference you won’t. Communication skills, a desire to help people change and grow and a sense purpose provide the foundation for initiating and most importantly sustaining positive relationships.
Main Idea: Gives them the power to lead! The ability to empower others is one of the keys to personal and professional success. Empowering is giving your influence to others for the purpose of personal and organizational growth. It’s seeing people’s potential, sharing your resources with them and showing them that you believe in them completely. Business executive J. Paul Getty put it bluntly, “It doesn’t make much difference how much knowledge or experience an executive possesses; if he/she is unable to achieve results through people, he/she is worthless as an executive.”
Main Idea: Multiplies leadership capabilities in others! Reproducing other influencers is based on the power of multiplication versus maintenance. Leaders in maintenance mode focus on not losing ground rather than making progress. To make a difference you must strive to become multiplier who moves beyond the synergy level to the significance level. At the significance level leaders develop and reproduce leaders who stay with the organization, work to reach their potential and in turn develop leaders. In an article published in the Harvard Business Review, author Joseph Bailey boldly proclaimed that if you want to raise leaders who reproduce other leaders you need to mentor them.
Final Words: This acrostic is powerful, timeless and thought provoking. I recommend your reading Mr. Maxwell’s book to help you understand that no matter what approach or philosophy in life, you are influencing people either positively or negatively. If you are influencing anyway, why not learn how to have a positive impact and a better chance at a leadership legacy you can be proud of.