Topic: Leadership

Leading By Influence

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We all know the saying. People don’t leave organisations, they leave leaders. Unfortunately, research shows the state of leadership is poor:

• More than 1 in 4 employees do not trust their direct manager

• 36% of employees do not trust senior leaders

• Only half say their manager motivates them to do their best work

• 31% say their direct manager often takes credit for their work or ideas

• Only 56% say their manager knows how to share responsibility with them and their team members

• Only 57% have a relationship with their direct manager that makes it easy to go to them with questions or concerns

Why are there so many bad leaders?



Typically when an organisation needs someone to fill a leadership role, they either look for someone from outside the organisation or promote someone from within. When promoting from within, companies either look for star players or long-tenured people on their teams to see who might make a great leader.

According to Gallup, 82% of organisations promote based on tenure and individual performance. Most people are promoted because they do great work. They are high achievers. They work hard. They’ve dedicated 10, maybe 20 years to their organisation.

But Gallup also found only 1 in 10 people promoted to management positions naturally possess the talent to lead. Which means 9 in 10 individuals who get management positions don’t inherently have the leadership skills needed to lead. With lackluster leadership training in most organisations, this means 9 in 10 leaders are inadequately equipped to lead and inspire their teams.

Individual performance and tenure don’t necessarily make a great leader.

82% of organizations promote based on tenure and individual performance. Only 1 in 10 who are promoted naturally possess the talent to lead.


New and even seasoned leaders often struggle to inspire their people. They might ask themselves: Why is my team not performing at a high level? Why do I still have to do all this work on projects myself? How do I motivate my team to work harder?

A great example of a good contributor vs a great leader is Magic Johnson and Alex Ferguson. Magic Johnson, basketball player for the LA Lakers, was selected first overall in his draft, received 3 MVP awards, appeared in 9 NBA finals and 12 All-Star Games, participated on the Olympic Basketball team, and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Magic Johnson, as a team member, did great work. Magic Johnson as a coach? He lasted only 16 games and then resigned.

Compare Magic with Alex Ferguson from the Manchester United football (soccer) team. Yes, Alex Ferguson was an accomplished soccer player. He won championships and was the top goal scorer in the Scottish league in 1965-66. But he had nowhere near the amount of accolades that Magic Johnson had. Nevertheless, he was an amazing coach. In fact, during his 26 years as manager of Manchester United, he won 38 trophies, was knighted by the queen, and is considered one of the most successful sports managers of all time.

Employee experience means ensuring that employees have positive, meaningful interactions with your organization at every step.


A great player doesn’t always translate into a great leader. To be a great leader, one needs to transition from a contributor of great work to being an influencer of great work.



How do leaders start influencing, rather than doing, great work?

1. Connect to a purpose. Your team wants to make a difference. Communicate a meaningful purpose and show how each employee’s work contributes to that purpose. Be specific and communicate it often.

2. Connect to accomplishments. Show you value and appreciate everyday employee accomplishments. Be sure to recognize extra effort, innovation, taking risks, going above and beyond, or career achievements over time. Make it personal and keep it genuine.

3. Connect to each other. Build mentorship, camaraderie, and wellbeing on your teams. Succeed and fail as a team. Look out for your people, and encourage your employees to help one another fit in and belong.

True leaders inspire their people. They are good performers, but they are even better champions. By teaching and enabling leaders, both new and seasoned, to help teams thrive, you’ll create a workplace where everyone feels connected and does their best work.

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” – JACK WELCH

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