6 Ways to Influence and Lead from Second Chair (or Below)

Many of us serve in roles where we are not commander in chief, but lieutenants, captains, or even sergeants in terms of where we serve on the hierarchy of the organization chart. If you find yourself in such a role, I want to provide you some wisdom through six influence tactics to help you succeed in leading from second chair (or third, fourth, or fifth).

Here are 6 Ways You Can Better Lead and Influence from Second Chair

Influencing the Next Generation Leader Through the Why Principle

One thing marks every long standing organization or institution: the ability to transfer purpose, vision and meaning to the next generation, so they can continue to influence and to carry the legacy.

But this action is easier said than done. Today I want to offer practical ways to help you pass on the legacy baton to the next generation (or next gen) leaders to better ensure the organization doesn’t drift from its founding principles.

Articulate The Why

Over time in any organization how something is accomplished might change. New technology and methods allow things to be done differently. Simon Sinek is a leading proponent of transferring The Why of what we do versus the how or what.

The Importance of Gaining Early Adopters for Long-Term Success

A recent study fascinates me. In the name of the experiment, a music playlist was generated with all types of music. Study participants were then invited to view the list on the computer and to click a button of any tune they’d be interested in downloading for free. Four different computer stations were set up with a varied group of participants sent to each. As each viewer clicked the songs he or she would like to download after hearing samples, the tally of the number of people who had also “liked” that song appeared to the left of the title. So if 2 people had selected it for download, the number 2 would appear next to the song. If 20 people downloaded it, the number 20 would appear.

Common sense would tell you that with an equally varied group of participants who had been vetted and equally divided between the four groups according to musical tastes, the preferred song lists ranked by likes would be very similar across the four identical lists. In other words, the best songs would rise to the top equally on all four computers.

Surprisingly this did not happen. In fact something quite extraordinary happened. What might be the top 20 songs on computer #1 weren’t even in the top 100 of computer #2.  The lists between computers showed no correlating ranking relationship.

What happened?

Identifying Potential Influencers: A Practical Guide

We all want more leaders and influencers to help our organization be successful. (That is, unless you are a control-freak and feel threatened by any emerging influencer.)

With this goal in mind, we prescribe how to identify the high-capacity influencers in your organization that need your investment to develop their potential.

What Are Practical Ways to Identify a High-Capacity Influencer?

How to Assess and Resist Negative Influence

I have spent most of my professional life teaching how to grow your influence. I am all for increasing your influence; however, there are people who seek to influence you that might be detrimental to your progress or even disastrous to your well-being. It is important we are able to dissect these influence attempts, and Dr. Philip Zimbardo, who is internationally recognized as a leading "voice and face of contemporary psychology" through his widely seen PBS-TV series, Discovering Psychology, his media appearances, best-selling trade books on shyness, and his classic research, The Stanford Prison Experiment, is a great resource.

Zimbardo has been a Stanford University professor since 1968 (now an Emeritus Professor), having taught previously at Yale, NYU, and Columbia University. He continues teaching graduate students at the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, and at the Naval Post Graduate School (Monterey).

How Do You, the Influencer, Assess and Resist Negative Influence Yourself?

Here are the first 10 tips of Dr. Zimbardo’s 20 ways to avoid negative influence with my take on each point.

Jonah Berger's Take on Invisible Influence

Jonah Berger, Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School in Pennsylvania, has some new and deep insights into how we are influenced at the subconscious level.

On a recent PBS radio interview, I heard Jonah’s interesting take on influence. Here are a few of the lessons gleaned.

1. As Americans, we tend to think of influence as a bad thing.

We like to think of ourselves as lone mavericks, controlling our own destinies unencumbered by outside influences. Yet without influence, life would be more difficult, a series of raw uninfluenced decisions. Contrast America to Japan, where “team” thinking is much more prevalent. There the symbiosis of how one fits into the team, culture and society is given much more weight. Yet, we as the American individualists aren’t nearly as individual as we’d like to think.

On Reading Intentions: A Parable

A Parable

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Joe went to his office party. They had great festivities and even gave away a free frozen turkey. Joe, who had only been employed by the company for 9 months, happened to win the frozen turkey.

Like he always did after work, Joe waited at the bus stop to ride the bus home to his flat from work. He carried his briefcase in one hand and cradled the turkey under his arm like a giant football.

He noticed a man, disheveled and slightly dirty, sitting on the bus stop bench. They gave each other a nod.

The wind whipped up, and Joe’s hat blew off his head. The disheveled man caught it and handed it back to Joe as they both laughed. Soon they were engaged in conversation where Joe learned that the man’s name was Jeremiah. He was a short-term laborer working on a project for the week. He had five kids and struggled to make ends meet.  In fact, he wasn’t getting paid for this job until next Monday.

Soon, Joe’s bus pulled up with the brakes hissing. As Joe stood up, he thought, "I have money for my own turkey, plus I’m a single guy; I can find something."

As Joe stood up, he handed the turkey to Jeremiah and said, "Here. Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy."

Jeremiah actually felt his eyes filling with tears as he thought about his kid’s excitement about having a real Thanksgiving dinner.

Joe arrived as his flat, grabbed a drink, and sat down on the couch reflecting on his day. 

Jeremiah got home and called the kids together. They rushed excitedly around the turkey. He started to unwrap the turkey, only to have a puzzled look on his face. The turkey felt so real, but as he continued to unwrap it, he realized it was not a real turkey at all.

He gazed at it and was confused. Joe must be one of the cruelest men in the world.

Influencing For or Against: The Role of Oppositional Influence and What We Learn from Brexit, Trump, and Others

Europe and Britain were shaken this week by the Brexit vote. The populous movement was influenced by those who said Britain was being held back by the EU, which they said imposed too many rules on business and charged billions of pounds a year in membership fees for little in return. They also wanted Britain to take back full control of its borders and reduce the number of people going to Britain to live and/or work. Post vote, several pundits have noted that there is not as strong of a “what now” plan in place. Voter’s polled even shared sentiments that they were voting against the EU and what it required more so than for the policies that would replace the EU.

Anxiety and Influence: How To Maintain Healthy Influence in Times of Heavy Stress

One of the things that robs us from healthy influence is worry, fear and anxiety. In fact, these often don’t decrease our influence but actually cause us to seek to influence others in unhealthy ways in order to bring quick alleviation to our anxiety.

Anxiety causes us to take the short-term look rather than seeking the best long-term solution. Our primary concern becomes, "Get this feeling of pressure off of me." We then tend to push for whatever we think will make us feel better the fastest, rather than asking, "What is the best long-term solution for this problem?"

We all worry. We all have fears. We all have anxiety. It is simply part of being human. But how we handle our anxiety is what sets apart leaders from those who capitulate to the stress.


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