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10 Ways to Become an Influential Leader

7 min read
influential leader leading team to meet organizational goals

Effective leadership plays a pivotal role in driving success and growth within organisations. Great leaders don’t just build strong relationships or create a clear vision; they can also empower and motivate their team members, leading by example and practising effective decision-making. In short, leadership positions go far beyond their title.

According to research by Zippia, a significant majority (83%) of organisations recognise the significance of developing leaders across all tiers within their company. However, a worryingly small 5% of businesses implement comprehensive leadership development programmes.

In this article, we’ll explore ten powerful ways you can bring transformational leadership to your organisation, providing valuable insights tailored to those looking to elevate their business leadership styles.


1) Establishing a Vision

A visionary leader sets the direction and inspires their team to achieve a common goal. It requires a strong understanding of the organisation’s mission and objectives and the ability to instil a sense of purpose and direction in team members involved.

Something worth noting, though, is that a vision should not static; it should evolve and adapt as the organisation progresses. Moreover, an influential leader continuously refines and communicates it to ensure it remains relevant and inspires the team to push boundaries and achieve new levels of success.

To establish a clear company vision, influential leaders should consider the following steps:

  1. Reflect on the organisation’s core values and long-term goals. This introspection helps leaders align their vision with the fundamental principles and aspirations of the company.
  2. Engage in open and transparent communication with key stakeholders, including fellow HR managers, executives, and employees. This collaboration ensures that the vision reflects diverse perspectives and garners organisational support.
  3. Articulate the vision concisely and compellingly. A powerful vision statement should inspire and motivate their team, giving them a clear understanding of the desired future state and the role they play in achieving it.

2) Building Strong Relationships

Effective leaders understand the power of connections and know how to foster positive relationships with their team, stakeholders, and fellow workers. Through rapport and open lines of communication, leaders can create an environment where trust and collaboration thrive.

For that reason, communication skills play a vital role in building relationships as a leader. Articulating ideas clearly, actively listening to others, and empathising with their perspectives create a strong foundation for effective communication.

To foster strong relationships, leaders can consider the following practices:

  • Building rapport through regular one-on-one meetings: By dedicating time to connect individually with team members, leaders can build trust, understand their needs, and provide support when necessary.
  • Encouraging open and honest communication: Creating a safe space where team members feel comfortable expressing their opinions and concerns fosters transparency and strengthens relationships.

an influential leader building strong relationship with a team member

3) Developing Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence, which encompasses self-awareness, empathy, and effective relationship management, plays a significant role in leading with impact and connecting with others on a deeper level. It starts by recognising your emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and triggers, which allows you to navigate interpersonal dynamics, picking up on varying personality traits and cultivating positive interactions between team members.

Here are examples of some practical tips for developing emotional intelligence as a leader:

  • Practice active listening: Listen attentively to others without interrupting, demonstrate genuine interest, and provide constructive feedback.
  • Cultivate empathy: Seek to understand the emotions and perspectives of others, show empathy in your interactions, and consider different viewpoints before making decisions.
  • Reflect on emotions: Reflect on your emotions, their triggers, and how they impact your behaviour. Develop ways to manage emotions effectively and improve overall self-confidence.
  • Develop self-control: When faced with challenging situations, practice self-control and respond thoughtfully rather than impulsively.
  • Seek feedback: Request feedback from others to understand how your actions and communication affect others. Use feedback to enhance your emotional intelligence and leadership effectiveness.

4) Empowering and Motivating Others

A great leader understands the importance of creating a supportive and inspiring work environment where individuals can thrive and contribute their best. By empowering others through democratic leadership, leaders foster a sense of ownership and autonomy among their team, igniting passion and drive and fuelling a collective pursuit company goals.

Here are some practical tips that leaders can employ to empower and motivate their team:

  • Provide regular feedback and constructive criticism to foster continuous growth.
  • Foster a collaborative environment where everyone feel comfortable sharing their opinions and perspectives.

5) Leading by Example

Leading by example rather than position distinguishes a person as a leader. They embody the qualities and behaviours they expect from their team, setting a positive example that not only sets trust and respect but also fosters a more cohesive and productive work environment.

To lead by example and influence people effectively, a leader can implement the following strategies:

  • Clearly articulate the organisation’s goals and demonstrate alignment by consistently working towards them.
  • Maintain a positive attitude, even in challenging situations, to inspire resilience and optimism among everyone.
  • Take ownership of mistakes and use them as opportunities for growth and continuous improvement.
  • Promote a healthy work-life balance by setting boundaries and encouraging self-care among the team.

6) Practising Effective Decision-Making

Making effective decisions requires skills, knowledge, and the ability to assess situations accurately to make the best choices for the team, the organisation and the stakeholders. Having such decision-making powers allows leaders to guide their teams towards attaining organisational goals while navigating through different situations.

To improve decision-making, leaders can employ certain strategies and techniques. Here are a few actionable tips:

  • Foster a collaborative process where others can provide input and contribute to the final decision.
  • Seek diverse perspectives involving individuals with different backgrounds, expertise, and viewpoints. This helps to uncover blind spots and consider alternative solutions.
  • Consider the potential risks and rewards associated with each decision. Evaluate the potential consequences and weigh them against the desired outcomes.
  • Embrace data-driven decision-making by leveraging relevant data and insights to inform choices. This reduces bias and increases the likelihood of making well-informed decisions.
  • Reflect on past decisions and learn from both successes and failures. Continuously evaluate the outcomes and adjust your decision-making approach accordingly.

hr leader practising his decision-making skills

7) Continuously Learning and Growing

Growth is perpetual progress, and to be a better leader one must continually expand their knowledge, refine their skills, and adapt to the ever-changing business landscape. This commitment to ongoing development enhances their leadership abilities and inspires and motivates their team to strive for greatness.

Let’s explore some valuable methods leaders can embrace to foster continuous learning and growth:

1. Embrace a Growth Mindset

Leaders with a growth mindset believe their own leadership abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. They view challenges as opportunities for growth and are open to learning from successes and failures.

2. Seek Learning Opportunities

Leaders can actively seek learning opportunities to expand their knowledge and skills. This can involve attending industry conferences, enrolling in professional development programmes, or seeking mentorship from experienced leaders. This allows leaders to stay ahead of industry trends, gain fresh perspectives, and broaden their understanding of leadership theories and practices.

3. Encourage a Learning Culture

Opening the gates to a learning culture within your organisation will enable everyone in your team to become high-performing employees with expansive skill sets. Leaders can provide online courses and workshops and create platforms for knowledge sharing, such as regular team meetings, where the team can share insights, best practices, and lessons learned.

8) Embracing and Managing Change

A leader’s role also involves adapting and navigating transitions effectively. Change can be intimidating, but successful leaders understand that it brings opportunities for growth and innovation. Trying to have complete control over day to day management or larger projects will only work against you.

To effectively manage change, leaders should consider the following tactics:

  1. Involve and empower employees: Engage others in the change process by seeking their input and involving them in certain decisions. This provides valuable insights and fosters a sense of ownership and commitment among employees.
  2. Support and resources: Ensure employees have the necessary resources, training, and support to adapt to the changes. Coaching, mentoring, or additional training can help them acquire the skills needed to thrive in the new environment.
  3. Communicate consistently: Maintain open lines of communication throughout the change process. Regularly update employees on the progress, address their concerns, and celebrate milestones to keep them motivated and engaged.

9) Encouraging Innovation and Creativity

Besides fostering a learning culture, those in leadership situations can also ensure a culture that promotes creativity and innovation. Giving your team the space to tread new waters and experiment to discover new solutions can unlock the full potential of your team and drive newfound achievements in an organisation. But to do so requires a highly supportive mindset and the right amount of autonomy and space for new ideas to flourish.

To encourage innovation and creativity, a leader can take several steps:

  1. Establish a safe and inclusive environment: Encourage open dialogue where the team can freely express their ideas and opinions without fear of judgment or criticism. Foster a culture of psychological safety where everyone feels valued and respected.
  2. Set clear expectations: Communicate your expectations regarding innovative thinking and encourage others to think outside the box. Emphasise that taking calculated risks and learning from failures are part of the process.
  3. Celebrate and reward creativity: Recognise and reward innovative ideas and contributions. This can be done through formal recognition programmes, incentives, or even simple acts of appreciation and acknowledgement.

10) Leading with Integrity and Ethics

A great leader demonstrates exceptional skills and expertise and upholds a strong moral compass, inspiring trust and respect among their team. Integrity is at the core of a good leader’s character in many ways. It means being honest, transparent, and consistently doing the right thing, even when faced with difficult choices.

To lead with integrity and ethics, there are several key practices that leadership roles embrace:

  1. Clear Values: Clearly define the values that drive your leadership style and ensure they align with the organisation’s values. Communicate these values to your team, emphasising their importance and integrating them into daily operations.
  2. Open Discussions: Foster an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing ethical concerns and dilemmas. Encourage open dialogue, active listening, and respectful debates to address ethical considerations thoroughly.
  3. Ethical Guidelines: Develop and communicate a code of conduct or ethical guidelines that outline the expected behaviour of all employees. This provides a framework for decision-making and ensures consistency in ethical practices throughout the organisation.

Commonly Asked Questions

What is a Leadership Theory?

This theory explains why and how certain people become leaders and which characteristics, skills and behaviours get them there. Most commonly, this includes traits like strong ethics, ability to self-manage, empathetic and highly organised.

What is Transactional Leadership?

Transactional leadership is rooted in frameworks, order and structure. For example, a transactional leader might be best at commanding a military or large/international corporations. This type of leadership is less suited to creative roles.

Sergio is a seasoned copy and content writer who has worked directly with company founders, CMOs, brand executives, and marketing directors from multiple industries. He's an HR geek and humble terpsichorean.

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