May 12, 2022 | Executive Coaching, Leadership

How to Become an Influential and Respected Leader: 8 Essential Skills

Written by Dan Grisoni

A grave misconception exists about influential leadership in all stages of society. From households to workplaces and from the military to even basketball courts, there is a prevalent image of an alpha leader barking orders at people, making team members feel small, striking fear into the hearts of friends and foes alike, and charging forward aggressively.

I’m not sure where this image came from, but it took root, and it has held on ferociously in many minds across the globe.

The truth, however, is that successful, respected, and influential leaders – the ones who accomplish long-term growth, who regularly and consistently meet goals, and are admired by both their superiors and their team members, are dramatically different from this image.

One of my favorite examples of how startlingly contrasted the false image is with the reality is Jocko Willink. 6 feet tall, weighing in at 230 pounds of solid muscle, Willink commanded SEAL Team 3’s Task Unit Bruiser in Iraq and was honored with the Silver Star and Bronze Star Medal for his service. Today, he consults with businesses on leadership.

Willink says that he commonly gets executives excited for him to come in and “kick some serious butt around here!” And his response, calm and collected, is, “you called the wrong guy.”

A true leader, Jocko Willink spreads a message of empathy and compassion, emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and self-confidence.

In short, you must know yourself, work on yourself, and lead your team from that place of quiet strength and self-confidence.

Those leadership skills and qualities are what I teach at Grisoni Coaching.

Every great leader learns to be a great leader – we are not born that way. And every influential and highly respected leader has a few qualities they have developed and continue to work on daily.


8 Skills of an Influential and Highly Respected Leader

Self-awareness is the critical key to emotional intelligence.

1. Know Yourself

The best way to understand and therefore lead and influence people is to know yourself. Self-awareness is the critical key to emotional intelligence.

When you have emotional intelligence, you are not driven by spontaneous moods or outside events. People cannot manipulate your energy, and you recognize your own internal issues and are actively working on them.

Which means you are the calm in and out of the storm.

When you have grown this skill, you can also read other people’s moods and motivations. Then, you can work with their energy effectively to channel it positively from that place of knowing. Now you’re getting results!

Now, you can focus your energy on building trust with your team, colleagues, and leaders.


2. Be Yourself

A significant component of building trust and respect among others is to be authentic, consistent, and transparent.
People never have to wonder how you will react or respond to bad news or a problematic event. They turn to you instead of away from you because you show up as the same, strong, confident person every time they see you.

As you work on building your strengths, continue to present that developed self to others, taking every opportunity to rise to the occasion.

Show up calmly and demonstrate solid self-awareness, tapping into your emotional intelligence and using it appropriately.

You will quickly earn a reputation as an inspiring, confident leader willing to lead from wherever the work is hardest.

Become that self, and then be that self in all things.


3. Know Your Team

 Know Your Team
When you know yourself and show up as yourself consistently, you can get to know your team.

Your emotional intelligence will allow you to tap into others’ emotions and influence their energy for the better.

People will trust you to influence them because all of your energy and actions will tell them, “I see you. I see what you are capable of. I am here to help you be your best self.”

In this way, you are not just becoming a great leader; you are also developing those leadership skills in others.

As you do this, reach out to others you don’t typically interact with or connect with and get to know them.

As you develop your skills and those of others, you are more capable of dedicating time to networking, and your networking is more effective. People listen to you and take you seriously.


4. Empathize and Care

Now, you’re developing a reputation as a leader, as a business professional invested in your growth and that of others, and you exude empathy and compassion.

You care.

You can show this sense of compassion and care in many ways.

Speak up diplomatically when something is wrong; stand up for your team. Make them feel valued and worthy of respect. As the poet Maya Angelou says, “people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Mentor others, take them under your wing, and be the leader you maybe never had but always needed. When you do this, fostering growing relationships, you can manage tension and stress so much more easily – not just your own but that of others as well. You will make people feel calm.


5. Communicate Clearly

Communicate Clearly
Clear and direct. Always.

When you are forthright and concise, people pay attention. Get right to the point, and you won’t lose their focus and energy. If you can’t say it clearly in a few words, don’t say it until you can.

Good leaders know how to get their point across in powerful but courteous ways.

When you can do this, you will be able to demonstrate your vision effectively. You can articulate your ideas with a business plan that will bring about positive change, impact, and results to your organization. Your superiors (and your direct reports) will see how your vision will increase efficiencies and revenue.


6. Take Ownership

You are accountable, and you never point the finger or pass blame.

A true leader learns to say, “I did that.” Or “this was my part in that.” And let the chips fall. If you were involved at all, own it. You will earn greater trust and respect if you do.

From this position, you will be more capable of teaching and delegating to others, showing them that you trust them in turn. And they will follow you because they know you have their backs.


7. Teach and Learn

You have to have heard this one before: a good teacher is always learning. It is your job to continually work on yourself, learn from everyone around you, and stay open.

As you teach, you will learn, and vice versa. Further, as you continue to learn, you will show others that remaining open is valuable and worthy of emulation.

Ask for feedback from superiors and colleagues and accept criticism with an open mind and heart.

A large part of this process involves active listening. Practice staying silent, not interrupting, and letting people finish their thoughts. Then communicate what you’ve understood. From there, take a breath, and respond from a place of wisdom and thought.

Show people that you have heard them, that you are improving, and take action on what they said.


8. Adapt and Shift

Things are always happening; fires are constantly igniting, and avalanches are always coming down. A great leader knows how to adapt and shift, flow with whatever is happening, and even turn fires and avalanches to their advantage.

Learn to say, “here’s the bright side.” “Here’s the gift.” (Hint: there is always a gift.)


Summing It Up

Having a coach by your side helps keep you on track
I’m going to be honest with you, learning these skills and developing these qualities is simple on paper, but it’s not easy in real life. Unfortunately, we often fall back on old triggers and bad habits and end up right back where we started, confused and frustrated at our perceived lack of growth.

This is normal.

And it’s why I became a leadership coach in the first place. Having a coach by your side helps keep you on track, focused, and observing your constant and continuous growth, even when you feel like you are backsliding.

You can start by taking my free leadership skills assessment and then book a call with me so that we can get you on the path to genuinely influential and respected leadership today.

About Dan Grisoni

Dan Grisoni is a sought-after high performance coach and trainer. For over 20 years Dan has been helping managers and leaders become influential and inspiring so that they can live, matter, and thrive, 365.

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