How to be an influential member of your workplace, according to 4 experts

Leonard Marcus, Eric McNulty, Barry Dorn, and Joseph Henderson, are the founders and directors of Harvard’s innovative National Preparedness Leadership Initiative and the lead authors of a new book titled YOU’RE IT: Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When It Matters Most.

Ladders is no stranger to covering meditations on the concept of leadership. Just recently, we covered Ron Williams’, LEARNING TO LEAD: The Journey to Leading Yourself, Leading Others, and Leading an Organization, where the author and magnate explained how at their core, a good leader is a problem solver. The authors of the newest take on the important virtue, expound on this idea, by adding the impact effective leadership can have on a corporate ecosystem, particularly in instances of crisis.

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In emergency response situations, a leader has to sometimes act beyond the jurisdiction of their higher-ups in order to get things done. Here are the four ways to exert influence beyond your authority in the workplace.

The importance of trust

Dr. Carol Grannis is the Chief Self-Esteem Officer for Self Esteem Brands, an organization dedicated to helping professionals enhance qualities of self-assurance. Earlier this year, Grannis directing a research study, finding that vulnerability and establishing trust goes a long way to foster efficiency and productivity in the workplace. A good leader listens to their teammates, accepts their flaws, and are just as aware of their own as they are of their weaknesses.

The authors of LEARNING TO LEAD: The Journey to Leading Yourself, Leading Others, and Leading an Organization write, “There is no substitute for trust in enduring relationships. When people know that they can count on you—whether to keep a confidence or take necessary action—they will share more openly with you and are more likely to heed what you have to say.”

Be a listener

Enacting this quality successfully emboldens the first one but in addition to building trust, listening can be a genuinely practical way to recognize the contributions of your staff and teammates. Like the new book points out, influence is derived out of an exhaustive and nuanced knowledge of the people you intend to lead (yourself included). The authors add, “You achieve that through aggregating quality input to inform your perception and analysis, and your ears are excellent at intelligence gathering. Listening attentively also signals that you care about the other party which, in turn, builds trust.”

Be missioned focused

Every firm needs a big picture to aspire towards. When you establish a performance-focused work culture, everyone is incentivized to help each other and strive for the best in themselves. As far as perception is concerned, instilling long-term goals, lets your team know that you do not intend to undermine their ambitions or progress because individual wins are in the best interest of everyone. “When you take an inclusive “meta” view, confidence grows that you are someone who can balance the big picture with the needs and desires of individual people and departments,” the authors explained.


Ramban’s Ladder: A Meditation On Generosity and Why It Is Necessary To Give, is a celebration of the teachings of leading medieval Jewish philosopher and physician Ramban written by Julie Salamon. Most of us have a fairly limited definition of the term generosity. In the context of leadership, it can mean giving someone a shot or permitting an employee the freedom to make mistakes. In her book, Salamon describes a generous and efficient exemplary, that people make people inspired to work for, one that makes a team want to help succeed.

The authors of the new book echo this sentiment, writing: “When you are someone who takes time for people, shares resources, and helps solve problems, others want you as an active, engaged member of their group. You are someone they look to include and thus orient themselves to your interest.”

Lastly, be a connector

All of the qualities mentioned above, culminate to establish a leader employees desire as an active member of their team. When you are a  driven generous, trustworthy, listener, people will be driven to reach out to you for opinions, advice and share opportunities, or as the authors phrase it:  “When you are known as someone who helps directly and who is unstinting in reaching across your network to assist others to find their next job, people with similar interests, or whatever they seek, you become an influence-rich node in that network.”

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