Leadership In Action

Share Influence – But Ask Questions First

June 23, 2015

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I'm Deb- CEO, worldwide executive coach, mentor, consultant and speaker. I'm here to help you take your leadership and impact to the next level!

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As a leader, you can use your influence to open doors, helping future leaders get a foothold.

But what happens if the person you want to help never walks through the door? Instead, they expect you to simply keep introducing them to people and creating opportunities?

In his book, Leadership Gold, John Maxwell says, “Influence should be loaned but never given.”

He warns against giving away your influence.

“As a young leader, whenever I received a more experienced leader’s influence, I saw it as an opportunity to establish myself,” Maxwell said. “…That wasn’t always the case with the people to whom I gave my influence. Many enjoyed receiving an opportunity that my influence provided, but didn’t do anything with it. They didn’t establish themselves; instead they assumed that they would always have my influence to fall back on.”

So, how do you make sure someone won’t take the easy way out and just expect you to do all the work?

Imagine that an acquaintance wants you to help them get a speaking engagement. You know they’d be a great speaker and a perfect fit for another leader’s event. You make some phone calls and ask for some favors. Your friend gets the job and impresses everyone. But instead of networking at the event or using their newfound experience to get another job, they come back to you time and time again wanting you to use your influence to their advantage.

There is another option. Stop the problem before it happens. When someone wants you to use your influence, ask them a few questions. For instance, if they’re looking for an introduction, ask:

  • What are your plans to build on this introduction?
  • How will you use this opportunity for further networking?
  • What are some ways you plan to promote yourself in order to reach your goals?

By asking questions, not only will you be ensuring that you’re not being taken advantage of, but you will be coaching a future leader. You’ll be making sure that they understand their next step.

Loaning influence may take some work and follow through, but it is worth the time. The more people you empower, the more influence you will have to achieve great things.