Deliberate Leadership is not necessarily tidy. The influence of another leader may not suit your style or your values. In fact, you may detest the leader and what they stand for. Throughout history, we have seen leaders who influence a society to their detriment. Are they still a deliberate leader? Yes, they are consciously choosing to use their influence to move others toward their endeavour.
We can’t control who leads. We can choose whom to follow.
I am thinking about leaders like Napoleon, Hitler, or Charles Manson. In retrospect, they hurt a lot of people. They damaged or destroyed the lives of the people who followed them, and the victims of those followers. This is an influence at work.
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
Influence – What is it?
It’s a soft skill and hard to measure. Influence is intangible. You can’t purchase it. You can purchase marketing promotional materials and propaganda, but can you make it go viral and have the influence you want? No. Ask the big players like Pepsi, Facebook and Uber.
Common synonyms for influence are to effect or impact, to control or sway, to have mastery over or supremacy. To guide, to direct, or to pressure.
Do you have an influence on me if I choose not to give it to you?
I am fascinated and immediately drawn to any story about groups of people who are suffering in great adversity and the lone few who seem to come out of the situation improved.
My first encounter with this phenomenon was reading Dr Viktor Frankl in my early twenties. Dr Frankl was a Jewish Psychiatrist and Neurologist who was living in Vienna. He and his family including his pregnant wife and parents were sent to concentration camps during the Holocaust. Most of them perished but prisoner number 119104, Viktor Frankl, survived.
Why? Was it chance? Just good fortune or fate?
The Power of Meaning
Frankl attributes it to the meaning and how we go about determining “meaning” in our everyday existence.
For those who are dependent on others to afford them meaning or those who absorb meaning from their social settings, the influence of a strong and deliberate leader can be supreme.
For those who derive personal meaning from an inside recognition, a self-determined view, no one can lead them somewhere they choose not to follow. They may be imprisoned, barricaded, isolated or banished, but inside they are feasting on the wealth of human creativity and wonder.
What Kind of Influence Will You Be?
While Frankl so brilliantly discusses our ability to determine our own path in his widely acclaimed and fundamental book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” as leaders we face an interesting notion.
People should be self-determining, but lest we forget, Frankl was one of the few survivors. Most people do not choose their own path, they follow. This makes the responsibility of the deliberate leader a powerful one.
Leadership is not restricted to “good influence.” We each carry within us the responsibility for the influence we have on those around us. Parents with children, teachers with students, rulers with subjects.
In my personal life, I take this very seriously. I feel a responsibility to use my ability to influence each person I with whom I make contact in a day. I am instantly aware when I miss the mark. Which I do often.
I am ever the voice to remind each individual regardless of your stature in life, your profession or education that you are an influence on the people, the environment, and animals around you. Be mindful, you are powerful without limits.