GQ Magazine has released its list of the "25 Least Influential People." Here's the problem: The list measures the wrong thing. Before you say, "Lighten up, Connie," please consider that I get it. While I've spent the past decade as an executive coach, my previous career was in – gasp – journalism. I understand that the "Least Influential" list is meant to be provocative, even profane, to win attention in a media-saturated world. Being GQ, the list is clever and targets the interests of its male audience. But even writer Drew Magary concedes that the premise of his list is dead wrong. For example as he notes about his #6 pick, foam finger-toting Miley Cyrus, "What's sad is that it totally worked."
Dr. Martin Luther King's gravitas was cemented 50 years ago. The queen of comfort food, Paula Deen, became persona non grata in many business circles this year. I was thinking about the parallel this morning, beyond the obvious racial context. There's a leadership lesson here that's crucial to YOUR ability to have a positive, lasting impact on others. Forget the fame factor. Set aside the race aspect. This is deeply personal.
He's so chill that he has a zoned-out meme. A photo of golfer Jason Dufner slumped against a classroom wall caught fire in March. His golf game caught up this month when he won the PGA Championship – his laid-back style still on display. How did Dufner stay so cool under intense pressure to win a major championship? More important, what can YOU learn from Dufner's transformation from a guy struggling to retain his PGA Tour card to a champion hoisting the coveted Wanamaker Trophy?
The news is full of people who are full of themselves: Mayoral wanna-be and serial sexter Anthony Weiner, San Diego mayor and alleged serial pervert Bob Filner, sports legend and alleged performance enhancer Alex Rodriguez ... and former bus driver-turned abuser Ariel Castro. A bus driver? We've come to expect narcissism from high profile politicians and athletes, but a former school bus driver from a run-down home?
Think about the paradoxes in your life. You want to exude executive presence—yet still be genuine. You want to hone your speaking and influence skills—but not appear manipulative. You want to inspire top performance from others—yet not drive away top talent with your demands. You want to be—and to be seen as—the real deal. How do you balance the polarities of perfection and authenticity to lead at your peak level?
"Just be yourself." As a piece of advice, it’s common—even clichéd. But it’s far more demanding than it sounds, isn’t it? If you’re a leader, you’re on the receiving end of relentless and often conflicting advice about how to present yourself to the world. Perhaps you’re urged to be active on social media in order to...
As a leader, you shape the culture of your team. You have the opportunity – and responsibility – to transform a collection of individuals into a high-performing group. As much as you may want to, you know that you can’t mandate teamwork. Plotters and schemers can undermine your efforts, unraveling not just your team’s performance, but your customer relationships as well. The reality is that every organization is inherently a political entity. Some team members will vie for attention, resources, and positions. That’s why culture is crucial – and why it begins with you.
Senator Marco Rubio chugged a tiny bottle of water during his State of the Union Republic response and instantly became comic fodder. In a swig heard 'round the world, he demonstrated why every executive must learn how to effectively communicate when Teleprompted. Lesson one: Always have water within arm's length – not off-camera. Here are a few other crucial tips I learned to master the prompter from my twenty years as a news anchor.
Membership on a senior leadership team gives you immense cachet. You’re in a circle of highly visible, powerful leaders. Your role is complex. You simultaneously manage your own business unit, function, or division while serving on a senior team that creates the organization’s future. To boot, you may be vying with those peers for a higher spot in the succession plan. As an executive coach, I’ve noticed that many of you are grappling with some loaded questions: Do I have influence with my peers? How do I add value? And how do I handle the conflicts that arise when strong-willed leaders butt heads? Here are a few ideas to ponder:
Much has been made of the interruptions during the recent Vice Presidential debate. I believe it’s indicative of “communication interruptus” that’s been breaking out everywhere – from boardrooms and meeting rooms to lunch rooms and chat rooms. We’re living in an impatient, impulsive, instant gratification world. Interrupting, interjecting, and talking over others has become the new norm. Seems everybody wants to get a word in edgewise.sn't it frustrating to be plowed over by someone who thinks the only voice worth listening to is his own? I'd like to offer a few reasons why more people are cutting you off, how to prevent it, and how to handle a relentless, habitual interrupter.
You're the Chief Executive and your company is mired in a major public outcry. Let's call it the "Map Flap." Hiccups in your mapping software have marred your newest product release, which was first heralded by a frenzy of excitement worldwide. While you may not be Tim Cook leading Apple Inc. through an uproar, the old saying "There but for the grace of God, go I" may come to mind. Every executive can learn from Cook's corporate contrition. An effective executive apology can influence others, mitigate damage and maybe even bolster your credibility in the long run. The trick is to understand the art of the apology and follow the right steps. Here are three steps to generate goodwill through contrition...
As an executive, you're called upon to deliver important messages to your organization and the marketplace. People look to you to set the tone in public speaking. You want to come across as a strong leader, but natural. To complicate matters, your busy schedule doesn't allow a minute to spare. That's why you need to master the Teleprompter. Man and the machine are converging in today's media-centric world. If you're a leader, you're now a broadcaster. Or at least a narrowcaster with consequences. Soon, you'll be called upon to record crisp messages for both your organization's intranet and the broader Internet.
I want to share this quick video with you because it's influence in its purest form. Pure joy. Pure triumph. Pure heart. Gabby Giffords proudly reciting the Pledge of Allegiance makes me smile and tear up simultaneously. This should influence you to never give up.
As you watched the London Olympics, you may have wondered, "Why does one athlete reach her golden goal while another with equal talent falters?" Sports psychologists tell us the athlete who hauls in the hardware has learned to manage her anxiety. Same with influential leaders and presenters. After a decade of coaching executives, I've learned the key is to manage your anxiety, not try to control it. Managing and controlling are two different mindsets. If you manage your anxiety, you'll stay focused, which radically reduces your stress and improves the outcome. If you try to control it, you give the anxiety too much power. Trying to control your nerves while delivering a presentation makes you vulnerable because...
The U.S. women's gymnastics team soared, flipped and vaulted their way to the top of the medal stand at the London Olympics. They delivered the most resounding win in modern gymnastics and marked the first time a U.S. women's team has clinched gold outside of the United States. What you may not know is that these five teenagers also provided a winning template for any group who delivers presentations. Think about the last group presentation you attended. I’ll bet it felt disjointed and sloppy. There was overlap or, even worse....
By now, you've heard about Olympian Ryan Lochte's face off with Michael Phelps in the 400-meter medley. You've heard how he dominated the race to win the gold. But you may be wondering, "What does a sports rivalry have to do with my presentation skills?" Everything. When you present, you are up against a competitor who's been on your tail for years. A competitor who can get inside your head and bring you down. You are competing against – YOU. Is it finally time to conquer your own demon? Let's take a lesson from Lochte with three tips you can apply right now...
Girl power, meet your new heroine. A young teen from Maine, ticked off by flagrant Photoshopping in magazines, has spun her criticism into a crusade. As a result, she’s led an influential, industry-altering crusade. 14 –year old Julia Bluhm started a petition on Change.org against altered photos in Seventeen magazine. Within days, her petition had more than 84,000 supporters. Within a month, Julia and her mom were invited to New York to meet with Seventeen’s editor in chief. Within reason, a commitment to change is now in place.
She's a smart cookie. Medical student Priscilla Chan inspired her famously private boyfriend, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, to lead a public health revolution. Over dinnertime chat, Priscilla shared stories of how patients she interacted with that day were impacted by organ donations. Those who failed to find donors were dying. Those lucky enough to be on the receiving end of donations lived. Priscilla lit up like a firecracker when she shared stories about lives saved. "Why don't more people donate?" she wondered, "If only people knew about the critical shortage of organs for people who are desperately in need." That's where dinner talk turned to into action.
Let's set aside the color featured in her saucy book trilogy for a moment. The shade that's dominating the New York Times bestseller list. Literary sensation E.L. James is tickled pink. The author of Fifty Shades of Grey is simultaneously revving the engines of women and upending the publishing world. Originally a self-published author – and a first-timer, at that – James is stunned that she's influencing the way books are bought and sold. In a statement to the BBC, James calls it "an extraordinary and wholly unexpected adventure." Fifty Shades began as a free e-book, allowing for discrete buying for those who didn't want others to know they were reading erotica. After eager book club members started recommending it, the trilogy exploded and went viral. (Not to be confused with the naughty acts she writes about, of course.)
I proudly select a Harvard scholar as my Influencer of the Week. A scholar who serves as a global ambassador for YouthAIDS. A dedicated individual who has testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. One who has presented to the National Press Club. A scholar who's also been lambasted by that very press this week for - wait for it - a puffy face. Ashley Judd has taken it on the chin. Make that the cheeks. If you haven't heard of the controversy, just type "Ashley Judd" into Google search and see the viral frenzy surrounding her "puffy face." You'll read elegantly descriptive words like "cow" and "pig." Who's oinking now? Ashley.
“Just do what’s right,” Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs reportedly advised Tim Cook, his successor as CEO of Apple Inc. That’s how shift happens. Cook proved his inner boldness this week in a major shift with the late Jobs’ philosophy. He announced the company’s new dividend and buyback plan, essentially bringing sexy back to the musty old dividend. The quarterly check, one seen as taboo for tech companies, is now cool again.
You could hardly miss it this week. The film Kony 2012 is a triumph of marketing. It's a viral video sensation with 76 million YouTube hits and counting since its release just days ago. The Kony film shines a light on the plight of child warfare and atrocities committed by Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony. Filmmaker Jason Russell created a narrative that juxtaposes video of his young son in California with the plight of the hopeless children of Uganda. But what accounts for its influence over so many, so fast? Here's how. Russell tapped into Twitter, Facebook, high schools, colleges, and Hollywood to make it happen. While there are no silly cat tricks, there are....
A tiny town is having a huge impact, schooling the world in how to respond to a nightmare in real time, with real grace, with one heartbeat. Welcome to Chardon, Ohio. Population five thousand, give or take a few. Today there are three fewer, taken out by gunfire in the high school cafeteria. The shots rang out minutes after last Monday opening bell, when a 17 year old approached his fellow students sitting at a cafeteria table and shot them in the head from behind. He killed three and injured two others. What's remarkable about this city is its focus. Despite the sirens, SWAT teams, satellite trucks, and helicopters, they've concentrated on what matters: Relationships. Consoling. Healing.
The Oscar's Red Carpet was the center of the universe Sunday night, featuring wildly expensive couture and jewels, taut bodies and sometimes tauter faces. But turns out, fashion's biggest night was hijacked by J.C Penney. Yes, J.C. Penney. The boring one. The 110-year-old retailer used Hollywood's hottest night to reveal its own facelift. The company, now led by former Apple Inc. executive Ron Johnson, unveiled five clever ads during the Oscar telecast, featuring spokeswoman Ellen DeGeneres.
He's a point guard who's making a point, loud and clear. The New York Knicks' Jeremy Lin proves it's time to ditch two stereotypes: that Asian Americans aren't NBA material – and that brainy Harvard graduates aren't either. Lin's sudden ascent from undrafted benchwarmer to global superstar is crushing records. If you're a person whose talents have been unrecognized or under-appreciated, here are a few tips to help you make the impact you know you're capable of....
In a week that's featured the return of Adele's powerfully emotional voice, the silencing of Whitney Houston's soaring vocals, and the imminent finale of Glen Campbell's crooning to Alzheimer's disease, I feel compelled to share this this truth: Use your voice. It's the center of your influence. Ever lost your voice? I've been silenced by a case of full blown laryngitis this week and am under doctor's orders to stay completely silent for 48 hours. No talking. No whispering. Not so much as a gentle throat clearing. You'd be surprised at how much you learn about your ability to influence when you're suddenly silent – and what others imply by your stillness.
The All American linebacker with the crazy face paint – that's how Mark Herzlich was defined during his stellar football career at Boston College. Then came cancer. Doctors hoped to redefine the 2008 Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year as Mark Herzlich, cancer survivor. Finished with football, yet alive and well. But Mark disagreed. He had a goal. Always ambitious, he was still determined to become Mark Herzlich, NFL linebacker.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's tarmac tiff with President Obama influenced a major book bump. Who knew that her Scorpions for Breakfast tome even existed before the photo-op transformed it into a best-seller? Apparently not many. Brewer's book rocketed from No. 343,000 up to No. 7 in Amazon book rankings as a result of tarmac time. That's an astonishing literary leap. She transformed a digit on her right hand into a handy digital sales tool.
Wikipedia went dark for a day and illuminated the world on how to influence boldly in the 21st century. The site's massive one-day protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) stopped something, alright. It stopped the Hollywood-inspired bill in its tracks. The political sponsors quickly turned tail after a tribe of Wikipedia-influenced constituents weighed in. In Wikipedia's words, its supporters "shut down Congress's switchboards and melted their servers." According to the website, 162 million sets of eyeballs viewed...
2011 was a bonfire of the vanities of leaders losing their influence. From sex scandals and financial fiascos to arrogance and morality missteps, the year was packed with one powerful public demise after another. Why did these leaders fall so hard? They confused influence with manipulation. Influence is a balanced approach to changing hearts, minds and results, while manipulation is fueled by a self-centered agenda. Followers quickly turn on leaders when they feel they're being played. Here are my picks for the "Worst Influencers Alive in 2011"...
2011 separated the influencers from the manipulators. One by one, once-admired leaders from the athletic office to the corner suite to Wall Street toppled like dominoes. Turns out they lacked influence. Why? Because they misjudged what influence really means. My list of the "Top Influencers Alive" may surprise you.That's my point. Despite conventional wisdom, influence and persuasion are not the same animal. After decades of advising top leaders, I've concluded that persuasion is a self-centered skill – it's manipulation fueled by a personal agenda run amok. Influence is a balanced approach to change hearts, minds and results. There are three dimensions of a true influencer. Do you measure up?
Do you feel boring? Or fascinating? I promise that no matter how run-of-the-mill you may feel most days, you possess a leadership quality that others find fascinating. I see this unfold every day in my executive coaching practice. Every leader has a unique asset, an inner strength that defines their executive presence.
It was the silence heard around the world: Rick Perry's brain freeze. Perry's mental cramp during the GOP presidential debate stole the show and was quickly hailed as one of the worst memory meltdowns in history. It was a cringe-inducing 53 seconds as Perry scrambled to recall the name of the third federal agency he'd shut down, to no avail.
Increasingly, leaders like you are facing language barriers, both within your global organizations and in front of audiences in presentations. With that in mind, I'd like to share three quick lessons that I have learned.
Tim Sanders is a confidence guru. A New York Times bestselling author, riveting keynote speaker and former Yahoo executive, Tim has written a compelling new book called Today We Are Rich: Harnessing the Power of Total Confidence that's loaded with insights on how to develop unshakable confidence in a shaky world.
Confidence is more critical now than ever in the economy we're facing today. It's essential to cultivate it so you can seize opportunities and avoid pitfalls. But it's not just recent graduates who crave confidence - every C-suite executive whom I've had the privilege to coach wants a booster shot to help them be more influential and make things happen.
Les McKeown doesn't buy into the common belief that passion and authenticity can make you influential. It's not that he's a contrarian - but this über-successful business author and serial entrepreneur pinpoints another, more specific reason for why leaders influence others.
Carol Roth is a leader you should know. Think of her as Suze Orman, one generation removed; she's a financial braintrust who leapfrogged from working class to privileged status through sheer determination and wicked smarts.
It struck me recently that you may associate influence with two things: money or charisma. You may think you need one or both to be a convincing leader who influences others and makes things happen.
An astounding thing happened to this quirky brain researcher - she suffered a massive stroke and studied herself as her brain functions shut down, one by one. In this remarkable TED Talk presentation, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor reenacts exactly how it feels when your brain fails you.
Ever received an e-mail response that struck you as the communication equivalent of Whac-A-Mole? Maybe you got a curt "see below" when you sent a question to a peer in an e-mail chain. You felt clobbered by your peer's abrupt, dismissive tone.
Consider the fire hydrant's purpose. Your neighborhood fire plug lets firefighters tap into the municipal water system to extinguish a fire. They attach a hose to the cast iron hydrant, screw open a valve and whoosh, out comes a powerful flow of water. Simple enough.
Being a confident communicator who influences others is a choice you make each and every day.
The world's most famous athlete and a two-time presidential contender both torpedoed their careers with their self-destructive narcissism. Tiger Woods referred to his ego- maniacal state as a "sense of entitlement" in his televised mea culpa. John Edwards outed himself as a narcissist in an ABC interview after he was caught cheating on his cancer-stricken wife.
Did you read the headlines? "Jackson Kids Steal the Show!" the news articles proclaimed, calling the appearance of Michael Jackson's two eldest children the most memorable moment of the 52nd annual Grammy Awards Show.
Kraft Chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld is scrambling to persuade shareholders that her company's $17 billion bid to buy British candymaker Cadbury is good for both companies. Her pursuit has drawn poor reactions from both Cadbury's shareholders and Kraft's biggest shareholder, Warren Buffett.
How you communicate a message has a direct impact on your ability to influence opinions.
You've been leading a high priority mission for months. You've pushed. Prodded. You've influenced internally because you believe it's the most vital issue facing your organization. Your team has invested sweat equity and they're counting on you to make it happen publicly.
You heard about the married politician caught trysting with his girlfriend in Argentina. On the day he was caught returning from his fun in the sun, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford held a hasty, free association press conference at the statehouse to drop the bomb.
Game over. Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner moved swiftly to fire his front office following the final, crushing loss of the season. He cut general manager Phil Savage loose by phone after Sunday's defeat, and then sacked coach Romeo Crennel the next morning.
I can read your mind. Not another story about Joe the Plumber, you're thinking. Good news. This isn't about Joe, the nation's newest household name invoked again and again during the final presidential debate. It's about you and your ability to make a point that people actually remember, repeat and respond to.
How do you undercut your message without opening your mouth? Leadership means managing your energy level as well as your words in order to influence peoples' decisions, behaviors and actions. Want to trigger a positive response? Radiate positive energy when your mouth is shut. Want a negative reaction? You'll soon learn how to spread bad vibes.