Many employees, from executives to rank and file, can strive for the lofty goal of becoming workplace influencers. But definitions of "influencer" vary, and who can say what is right? Karen McGregor, leadership and influence expert, international speaker and author of "Awakened Influence," has created a path for those who wish to fulfill the role. McGregor says all people are influencers. Her question to all ranks of employees — management or otherwise — is to ask oneself: "Is your influence driven by fear, or greed, or the desire to manipulate others, or the need for recognition — or by a deep longing to create a better world for everyone?"
McGregor says everyone wants to think of themselves as benevolent. But as we see by the actions of many, this is not the case. Insight and reflection into one's inner thoughts, feelings and behavior can reveal a person's true self, if that person is ready and willing to accept the incongruency.
Facing the truth about oneself means taking an honest look at one's behavior and the outcomes that result from it. Once a person accepts the reality that his or her image is not what they had thought, the new reality can lay the path for positive change.
They now have the opportunity to choose actions intended for the greater good, such as an individual department, a company as a whole, or any group or organization in which they are involved. Their revised goals have the power to be far-reaching, as a positive influencer should be.
McGregor applied the ancient wisdom of the 4,000-year-old Tao Te Ching to help people accomplish the following: No. 1: Identify and break the power patterns undermining positive influence. No. 2: Open the block that has stopped a person from reaching positive results. No. 3: Lead to resolving dysfunctional relationships. No. 4: Ultimately stop or resolve negative situations. Unwanted and distorted power patterns result from people who are categorically controllers, those who typically play the victim role and those who simply withdraw from taking positive actions to help resolve problems. Imagine a workplace without such types, since negative behavior affects everyone at work.
In "Awakened Influence," McGregor describes three stages of influence that people move through in life. The first stage, which comes naturally for most, is self-centeredness; this is where people focus on getting whatever they want, regardless of the consequences to others. The second stage is where a person's goals and strategies are directed toward win-win situations. The third stage of influence is where goals are aimed toward a powerful outcome for all — the planet, the community and the evolution of humanity.
In addition, McGregor shares practical steps to help people become the influencers they want to be.
No. 1: Replace your fear-based wording with positive expressions. Turn "I'm overwhelmed" into "I'm wonderfully busy."
No. 2: When you feel angry or annoyed, focus on gratitude.
No. 3: Stop begging and calling it prayer. The sisters of Poor Clares Monastery in Duncan, British Columbia said that prayer can be a meditative walk in nature, a feeling of deep gratitude or joy from being in the presence of a loved one, or simply saying thank you.
No. 4: Take note of your need to be right. This need diminishes your power and weakens your ability to influence. It also stops others from contributing.
No. 5: Resist the urge to label everything. Label ice cream, not people.
No. 6: Create environmental stillness. Chaos negatively affects everyone.
No. 7: When you encounter challenging people, think of them as soul mates. Soul mates are not romantic partners; they are people placed in your life to help you grow by presenting you with traits and actions you dislike.
"Once you do the inner work," McGregor says, "You can start influencing those around you in a positive way, and the ripples you create will impact the whole world."
Email career and life coach: [email protected] with your workplace problems and issues. Ms. Novak responds to all emails. For more information, visit www.lindseynovak.com and for past columns, see www.creators.com/read/At-Work-Lindsey-Novak.
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