Keep The Title, I’ll Use My Influence

In leadership, titles:

  • Have a very short lifespan. Titles are like an invitation, they get you in the door but can’t prevent you from getting kicked out.  People quickly figure out if the person can walk the talk.
  • Create an invisible barrier.  People inherently change to a submissive behavior in the presence of someone considered of higher authority or title.  This creates a type of separation between leader and follower.
  • Devalue People. When people refer to others as analyst, VP, boss, director, doctor, etc. there’s a greater chance to start defining people by the eloquence of their title.
  • End up in compliance not engagement. In a positional environment, people will end up giving the bare minimum in other to please the “boss” and survive another day.  They lend their hands but not their brains.

I gain influence by:

  • Validating emotions. Whether we want to or not, we bring our emotions to work.  We like to share our happy moments and look for consolation during stressful times.  Thus, I always validate the emotional situation before talking about work.  I’m not going to get great work from anyone if they can’t see and feel I care about them.
  • Mingling. I make it a point to just spend time with others and get to know them.  By making it normal to be around them, it’s easier to have honest conversations about work, life, dreams, and passions.  There’s no need to bring up rank, because it’s a conversation among friends.
  • Adding value.  I look for ways to make the life of others better with training, mentoring, sharing ideas, or helping them grow.  Like Zig Ziglar’s said “if you help people get what they want, they’ll help you get what you want”

In the last 6 months as an individual contributor, I’ve had more people come to me for input or guidance than when I was a divisional leader.  I have no title but my influence is greater.  This is all due to my focus on connecting with people.  Which is why I say “keep the title, I’ll use my influence.”

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5 thoughts on “Keep The Title, I’ll Use My Influence

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  1. In conveying information or attempting to influence others with our words, the package is much more important than the content in determining effective reception. Part of the package is the presenter’s title. It may be freeing to the leader to work without a title, but it won’t be as effective.

  2. Someone recently told me that her Director does not advocate putting titles on business cards. I thought that was a great idea! Leadership is earned not written. Well said…

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