By | Dr Marshall Goldsmith | #1 Leadership Thinker, Exec Coach, NYT Bestselling Author. Dartmouth Tuck Professor Mgmt Practice
Founder of Influence360° and The Dieken Group, Connie Dieken is the author of the bestselling books Talk Less, Say More and Become the Real Deal and a 5-time Emmy award-winning journalist. A member of our 100 Coaches, Connie is an expert on leadership influence. She helps leaders influence positive outcomes in all directions sometimes under the most difficult conditions.
In this week’s interview, I ask Connie to define influence. What does it mean to be influential in today’s rapidly changing world? Below is an excerpt from our interview.
Marshall: Connie, why is influence so important and what is it? What do you mean by influence?
Connie: Thank you, Marshall. The term influence has always been muddled. People have never really understood what influence means, but now it is more confusing than ever because of the introduction of what are called, social media influencers, who are people who monetize their personalities in order to sell products.
That’s not what we’re talking about here.
Leadership influence is the ability to elevate other people and to shape the future in a positive way. If you think of it from that angle, what we’re looking at are people who have done something that shapes the future. You don’t have to be famous to influence. Teachers are very influential, parents of course, leaders at businesses and within the organization and departments are very influential. Influence is about elevating others and helping to shape their lives.
Marshall: I love your definition of influence, “the ability to elevate others and shape the future in a positive way.”
A few years ago, I attended a program led by my wonderful friend Ayse Birsel, one of the world’s top designers, called Design the Life You Love. At the program, Ayse asked us to write down the names the people we felt most influenced by, our heroes.
I wrote down Frances Hesselbein (former CEO of the Girl Scouts and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom), Alan Mulally (former CEO of Ford and CEO of the year in the United States), Dr. Jim Kim (President of the World Bank), Peter Drucker (founder of modern management), Paul Hersey (noted author, teacher, and personal mentor of mine), and Warren Bennis (one of the world’s greatest leadership thinkers of his time). Then Ayse asked us to describe what made us think of them as heroes. I wrote that they were all “great teachers” and “very generous.” She then challenged us to “be more like them” in designing the lives we love.
To meet Ayse’s challenge, I came up with the idea of the 100 Coaches ‘pay-it-forward’ program, of which you are a member. The 100 Coaches is a pay-it-forward group – I teach members everything I know and in return when it comes their turn, the members do the same for others. All this to recognize the amazing contributions the great teachers and leaders who influenced me have made in my life.
So, I love your definition of influence and look forward to learning more. Thank you!
Founder of Influence360 and the Dieken Group and best-selling author of Talk Less, Say More and Become the Real Deal, Connie Dieken defines influence to open this exceptional new series about the importance of being an influential leader in today’s modern world.