Influence Starts on The Inside

A person can have a leadership or manager title however a title does not necessarily give a person influence. However, if you want to be a great leader or manager you need to have it. It’s essential to know that having and maintaining influence starts on the inside then works out from there. This is because who you are on the inside reflects through your actions and behaviors, this in turn causes you to either have or lose influence.

In her article, Becoming an Intentional Influencer, Ngina Otiende shared that influence is defined as “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something.” If you expect to influence others then you must be able to influence yourself. To influence yourself then:

Know yourself- If you want to effectively influence others then you need to know, understand, and accept yourself. Doing this requires avoiding becoming an Outside-In Leader. This is someone who spends an unhealthy amount of time on their outward appearance or who tries to be someone they are not. When this happens you can lose focus of your unique personality, talents, and self. Keep in mind that, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” ~Aristotle.

Lead self well- If you want to influence people it requires successfully leading yourself. This can be a challenge because the hardest person you will ever lead is yourself. John Maxwell illustrates this in a funny way by saying, “If I could kick the person most responsible for my problems, I would not be able to sit down for a week.” Being intentional about leading yourself allows you to move forward and lead better. This requires:

  • A balanced life- To lead self well requires a balance in all areas of your life.
  • Time management- This is about knowing your priorities and spending your time and energy on them.
  • Following your core– This is when you live and lead with character and integrity.
  • Lead by example-This means your word matches your example.

Control yourself- Control over self requires being in control of your behavior no matter your current emotions. Humans are emotional beings how have different emotions and feelings. It’s not a question of if you will have emotions; it’s about reacting correctly when you do feel emotion. If a leader reacts on their first emotions during a challenging or difficult situation they have the potential to lose trust and respect, and possibly a follower. This is because during an emotional reaction, what one may say or do could be negative.

A positive example of controlled leader: A leader who does not react toward someone with anger and frustration after the person has lost an important client. In this situation there is needed correction but a good leader knows how to control their emotions so they don’t make a bad situation even worse.

Question: How do you influence yourself so you can positively impact others?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Good points, Dan. We’re more inclined to follow people we respect, and the leaders who take the time to develop their own character are usually much easier to respect. On the leadership side of things, I find I have to look within to see what needs to change so I can lead well. Then I look to God and make a conscious decision to renew my mind as often as it takes to break free from my bad habits and replace them with good habits. When I just say, “Oh well, I’ll change some day,” some day never comes.

    • Looking within then toward God is so essential. Surrendering our life to Him allows us to lead our self’s and others effectively. Thank you for reading and adding to the conversation.

  • floyd

    Great post Dan. I think the biggest problem in our society is the masses succumbing to the lies of following our emotions. Our emotions are good tools to lead us to do great things, but in the end our leading of ourselves or anybody should be about character first.

    • I totally agree with you Floyd. It’s all about our character:) thank you for sharing.

  • Controlling your emotions is so key in this equation because if you let yourself get out of control it could lead to you doing and saying things that are not necessarily correct or accurate. The thing that I do is read, it helps me to discern where and how I can impact others.

    • It’s an important aspect of leading successfully. Great idea about reading.

  • Leading yourself is so key. It shows integrity and gives you a lot of credibility as you lead others.

    • It defiantly does. thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  • I agree that influence starts internally. I’ve spent years coming to a point where I know and lead myself well. My self-control is strong, too, yet sometimes I still get bent out of shape or fester over the little things. Although I’ve dealt with many crises in the past ten years and have handled them with resilience, my attitude about little things can be seen by others and I know I can work on that.

    • Dan, I can lead myself well in the bigger things but also can have a hard time with those little things. At least we both realize it and can become better. Thank you for reading and adding to the conversation.

  • I think the one I strrugle with is knowing myself or more honestly, admitting things about myself. I have to be real where I see the flaws and work on them. Great thought provoking post buddy.

    • I think over time you will better begin to know and understand your self. Your a great man and know your honesty will carry you far. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  • Focusing on your strengths I think is key to having influence. Good stuff Dan!

    • I totally agree with you Chris. Personal strengths are important. Thank you for stopping by.

  • Wow, so honored to be mentioned in this post Dan, thank you so much.

    You are absolutely right – the hardest person to lead is me! I try to kick myself, instead of waiting for someone else to kick me :) I trust God to help me improve. I also set and work on goals which keep me moving forward. I know that i cannot lead others where i haven’t been so i try to go places :) with the help of God.

    This is an awesome post on Influence! Thanks for sharing it with all of us.

    • Your welcome.

      Kicking self hurts less then having someone else kick you:) Perfect point about goals and moving forward. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  • That quote by Maxwell makes so much sense :) Influence does truly start on the inside. The first line itself just helps demystify what many take for granted. Titles does not necessarily equal influence. This stands out for me, “to effectively influence others then you need to know, understand, and accept yourself.”

    I have a lot to work on, good thing is I have already started the journey to know self. Authenticity is key.

    Wow, you have written a powerful post. I have to read and reread just to soak it all in. Thanks for sharing Dan.

    • I think we all have some work to do. As we become better our influence is able to increase more. Influence is key in whatever we do.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Sorry I did not respond to you sooner, I have just been crazy busy. I appreciate you.

  • This is such a great summary of a very important topic, Dan!
    I learned a few years back that whenever I leave the house out of alignment with who I am in Christ, I felt more dependent on people’s opinions and influenced by outer factors.
    I made it a habit of mine to meditate and picture the man I want to be, whenever I feel discouraged or hopeless in any situation. This has dramatically increased my joy and confidence!

    • Thank you Daniel. Great learning experience. It’s all about knowing who we are in Christ then walking it out. Thank you for adding to the conversation.

  • Dan, powerful post and Maxwell is hilarious. Mastery over self is always the key to success. Someone once said that every public victory is the result of an earlier private victory.

    • Thank you Skip. Yes he is:) Great saying, thank you for sharing it.