One Simple Change Can Unleash Your Influence

AdVance Leadership » One Simple Change Can Unleash Your Influence

Welcome to Friday 411, issue #060. In 4 minutes, with 1 insight and 1 action, you’ll learn how slight changes in behavior can have substantial impact on those you lead.

1 Insight

If you’re not influencing people as effectively as you’d like, use the Cycle of Self-Knowledge to help you identify new ways of leading.

Early in my leadership journey, I (Garland) had a big vision for my organization, but the people I led didn’t seem interested.  When I would cast the inspiring vision, people would seem motivated for a few days. Then the momentum would quickly sputter out. I was confident and enthusiastic about my vision. Why wasn’t anyone else?

I discovered my answers through an anonymous evaluation of my leadership. The feedback revealed:

  1. I was intensely focused on tasks and could get frustrated when interrupted.
  2. I was not approachable and seemed impatient in conversations.
  3. I would get frustrated when people needed my help.

The problem was not that people weren’t bought into the vision. They weren’t bought into me. They didn’t value the vision because they didn’t feel valued by me.

I had always viewed myself as an approachable, people-oriented person. I had no idea how intense I could come across. I needed to grow in my Self-Knowledge so that I could lead others better.

The Cycle of Self Knowledge

Self-knowledge is a powerful tool for you as a leader. The more you know and understand yourself, the better you can lead yourself. You must lead yourself well before you have any chance of leading others well.

If I had any chance of seeing the vision come to fruition, I needed to change the way I influenced people. In order to change the way I influenced them, I needed to reflect on my current behaviors and change my actions toward others. This is the Cycle of Self Knowledge:

  • Reflection: Think about how you want to lead and how you present yourself to people.
  • Action: Change your behaviors based on your reflections.
  • Influence: As you change behaviors, you increase the likelihood of effectively leading others.

Get to Know Yourself

Use the Cycle of Self-Knowledge to improve your ability to influence. Here are some questions to get you started.


  1. What kind of impact are you currently having on people?
  2. What kind of impact do you want to have on those you lead?
  3. What are you currently doing that’s having a negative affect?
  4. What behaviors are getting in the way of your desired influence?
  5. What are you currently doing that’s having a positive affect?
  6. What could you do differently that would have a positive affect?


You don’t need to change everything you’re doing. Small changes can lead to big results.

Once I reflected on what I was doing versus what I wanted to do, it was time for me to change actions. The most consistent feedback I received focused on the way I walked by people without acknowledging them. I genuinely love people and had always thought of myself as a friendly person. I was shocked that people didn’t know how much I cared about them.

Should I really have been shocked? I do love people. But I also love thinking. My mind can be a playground that I get lost in. The truth was, I wasn’t ignoring people.  I was so mentally absorbed, I didn’t even realize someone was there.

If I cared about people as much as I claimed I did, it was time for me determine when it was okay to be in my head and when I needed to be out of my head. I started by making one small change to my actions: When I walked down the hallways of my office building, I would stroll slowly.

I believed that, if my body moved slowly, my mind would follow.  Slowing down allowed me to see past my thoughts to the people who needed my attention.


After several weeks of walking slowly, I noticed that my influence on others had changed. People were warm and friendly. They stopped me in the hallway to talk with me about the vision. They shared challenges they were having and offered solutions to challenges I was thinking about.

You can’t control if people respond well to you. But you can control your behaviors in the hopes of influencing them well.

1 Action

Spend 10 minutes asking yourself the Reflection questions. If you’re not influencing people as effectively as you’d like, determine one small action you can change.


Want to help your company unleash its leaders?

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