You can be a person of influence

By Gale Mote / Guest Column

Webster’s Dictionary defines influence as “the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways.” Most people are driven by an intrinsic need to add value, make a positive difference and contribute in a meaningful way.

The Corridor Business Journal honored the 2017 Women of Influence in April. It always warms my heart to see these wonderful women honored for the many ways they make their organizations, families, friends and the Corridor a better place.

Of course, we all know that influence has nothing to do with status or title (at least not the kind of power that is sustainable and energizes commitment). Leadership is action, not position. As John Mellencamp said in his song “Peaceful World,” “It’s what you do and not what you say, if you are not part of the future, than get out of the way.” Each of us has the choice to be a person of influence.

To influence others, you must embrace your strengths and share your joy of whatever makes you incredibly happy. Others will embrace your energy and sense your determination. They will be inspired by your desire and want to become part of that positive force. When you lack passion, you will not dedicate yourself to do the hard work, make the sacrifices and endure the setbacks associated with making change happen.

Influence requires the ability to say “no” to what matters least. Focus is an incredibly important skill. It is so easy to be distracted by shiny objects and other people’s priorities. To be a person of influence, you must stay on target and make wise choices about where you spend your time, resources and energy. To say “no,” you must have a bigger “yes” burning inside of you.

In “The Ideal Team Player,” Pat Lencioni writes about the importance of humility, to recognize that nobody does it alone. Egos, selfish acts and an inward mindset will not make you a person of influence. When you lead with your heart and a desire to be helpful to others, the benefits will come back to you tenfold.

In her book, “The Joy of Loving: A Guide to Daily Living,” Mother Teresa offers some ways to practice humility – speak as little as possible of one’s self, accept contradictions and correction cheerfully, accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked, and be kind and gentle even under provocation. I also believe you need to be able to take more satisfaction in others’ accomplishments than your own.

Lastly, influence is about relationship power. The ability to build lasting interpersonal relationships based on trust, compassion and mutual respect is paramount. This begins with extending yourself to others. Let people get to know you and always show a sincere and genuine interest in them. Be present and make others feel heard, considered and understood.

Don’t be afraid to say “I’m sorry” or “I made a mistake.” Demonstrating personal accountability – no excuses, no blame – builds your credibility and character. Set high expectations for yourself and then live up to them. Make your word mean something.

As Lou Holtz said in his video, “Do Right,” “Your name is very, very valuable. You got it from your father, maybe it was all he had to give. But it’s yours to use and cherish, for as long as you may live. You may lose some of what he gave you, but it can always be replaced.”

Everyone can choose to be a person of influence. Congratulations to our 2017 CBJ honorees – you help us to see what is possible.

Gale Mote is a trainer, organizational development catalyst and coach in Cedar Rapids. Contact her at