The Art of Influence: Navigating the Flow of Leadership

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We’ve all been in THAT room, with THAT leader, giving THAT directive…

You know, the one that was meant to be visionary, inspired, dynamic…

Instead, it comes across as imposing a directive, flexing one’s authority and, frankly, dictating.

That leader might force some change, scaring everyone into action… but it rarely, if ever, is sustainable.

What is sustainable is INFLUENCE.  

In today’s fast-paced world of leadership, where change is constant and the dynamics of teams and organizations are ever-evolving, the art of influence has taken on a new dimension.

Great, influential leaders understand the essence of flow—how teams, individuals, and the world at large move along their respective pathways. Influence, derived from the word “flu,” meaning flow, encapsulates the profound concept of guiding others to sync with the natural current of progress.

Imagine you’re a leader, standing at the helm of your team with a vision in mind and a destination to reach. Like a river’s current, your team members have their own trajectory. They are headed in a specific direction, propelled by their thoughts, ideas, and motivations. Your role as a leader is not to fight this current but to merge seamlessly.

So, how do you become one with the flow, and more importantly, how do you guide your team onto a new, more fruitful pathway? The answer lies in the art of tapping—the gentle, guiding touch that redirects energy without force or resistance.

Tapping is the process of coming alongside their thoughts and emotions rather than using authority to block them.  Then as we get in-flow, we can gently tap their thinking towards a new direction of flow.

Leadership in its most influential form is about creating a framework, a model if you will, that guides your team’s thinking and decision-making processes. Just as an architect drafts blueprints for a building, you, as a leader, provide your team with a mental framework—a model that helps them organize their thoughts and channel their efforts effectively.

Let me share a practical example from my own experience as a teacher. Picture a classroom filled with 15 to 17-year-old students, each with their unique interests and distractions. Teaching them Ohm’s Law, a fundamental concept in electrical circuits, is challenging. But, by presenting it as a triangle—a simple, memorable model—suddenly, the abstract theory becomes tangible, and the students are drawn into the flow of learning. The choreography, or the structure of this model, guides their understanding, making the complex subject accessible and engaging.

Now, consider this scenario in a broader context. As a leader, you’re often faced with influencing your team members’ decisions and actions. More often than not, these individuals have their perspectives, and pushing your truth onto them can lead to resistance. It’s like a tug-of-war, with each side vying for dominance.

This is where the magic of models and choreography comes into play as a tool of influence. 

Just as a skilled mediator can facilitate a productive conversation between conflicting parties, a well-structured model acts as an impartial mediator in ideas and decisions. It allows you and your team members to work collaboratively on a shared truth. It’s not about pushing ideas but creating a visual and structural representation that invites curiosity and sparks meaningful dialogue.

The power of this approach lies in its ability to tap into the flow of human psychology. We are inherently visual creatures—83% of the information we process comes through our eyes. By leveraging the visual medium and organizing thoughts into models, you enhance understanding and make the intangible tangible. People say, “I see it, I get it.” It becomes not just believable but desirable and viable when executed with precision.

Influence is not about dictating but facilitating, not about resistance but flow, and not about force but guidance. 

It’s about embracing the concept of “flu” and navigating the currents of thought and action with grace and wisdom.

And, as leaders, we have a unique opportunity to tap into the power of models and choreography, enabling our teams to journey together toward shared goals, all while celebrating the art of influence in the flow of leadership.

Today, let us all agree to be influential… it is of absolute consequence to the greater good.

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