Over the past month, I have spoken to three people about their future career options. Each was seeking career advancement and an executive title. In each case, I told them that chasing a title is not actually the best way to advance. Of course, that seems easy for me to say with the title of President and CEO. But hear me out…
When I probed about their interest in title progression, I heard them make comments such as, “I want to have credibility and I want a seat at the table.” I continue to hear this from others that I have mentored over the years. They hold the misconception, as many do, that a title will buy them leadership credibility and followership. But the title is not the ticket to leadership. There are other qualities that shape a leader and that, most importantly, generate followership.
One of those qualities is possessing influencing skills. These are skills which help you understand how influence works in your organization and how you can use that influence to better carry out your leadership goals.
More than a title, aspiring and current leaders need to understand that gaining followership from influencing people is critical to success. So, what does that look like? How does one gain influence? First, one must identify the stakeholders. These are the people that are impacted by a certain decision. Once you’ve identified them, spend time with them. Share your viewpoint on a situation and ask them to identify others that may help you to lead in a certain direction.
An effective leader does not say “Do this!” and expect it to be automatically done. An effective leader creates a map of who needs to be involved, who will be impacted, and who is in a position to help me lead.
Even with the title of President and CEO, I use my influencing skills to lead far more than my title. It is with influencing skills that one actually get things done.