Have you ever wondered why some leaders make success more rapidly than others? It is not purely because they are more talented, better looking, have better ideas or have the best strategic plans. Some of these things impact the outcome, but the defining difference is in their ability to influence.

Leadership author and speaker John Maxwell puts it very simply.

“Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less.”

The ability to influence others is a key quality of a leader. Leaders must embrace the mastery of this skill, as it determines your success or failure. It is your ability to influence that allows you to drive change, build cohesive, high performing teams and successfully carry out strategic plans. To be an effective leader, it is necessary to influence others to support and action your vision, ideas and day-to-day decisions.

Let me be clear… when I speak of influence I am not referring to manipulation. Manipulation may get you what you want in the short-term but the long-term damage to your reputation and your leadership will not be worth it. Your role as a leader is to mobilize people to believe in a compelling vision and act towards meeting a common goal. You are there to show them what is possible and to influence desired actions in an effort to deliver excellence in everything they set out to do. Great leaders lead and influence by modelling a winning attitude and encouraging others to continue to stretch and grow their skills and abilities. Influence, like leadership can be learnt.

Your influence is built on a foundation of:

1. Trust. People follow, believe in and work harder for people who they trust. Without trust there is an absolute limit to your ability to create lasting influence. Trust is built over time out of genuine relationships, care and consistency of behavior. You will notice when people trust you, they will believe in your vision, be more willing to stretch beyond their comfort zone and go the “extra mile” to get the job done.

2. Like ability. Amy Cuddy, of Harvard Business School, found that projecting “warmth” is the key to having influence. Research has shown that leaders who are rated low on likability have about a one in 2,000 chance of being regarded as effective. WOW! So it is important to make sure that you are approachable, positive, genuine, caring and warm if you wish to succeed as a leader.

3. Genuine Relationships. Those with the greatest amount of influence are almost always those with the strongest relationships. Think about the people whom you have solid relationships with. Are you more likely to go out of your way to help them, support them and champion their success? Of course you are. The same goes for your relationships at work.

4. And while building genuine relationships with your team, customers and others at work, you will build and strengthen your trust and likability reason, thus further strengthening the degree of your influence.

The bottom line is that your leadership influence is more to do with your character and who you are being each day when your show up at work than anything else. Take a sincere interest in others, work on your likability and strengthen the relationships with those around you and sit back and watch your influence and so your impact and results flourish. What can you do today to take steps to build even more trust, elevate your likeability score and your strengthen relationships?