We all strive to be the leader, the big kahuna, the king of the castle, the person in charge. That’s OK. I’ve been there and that’s a pretty good place to be. But most of us will spend more time being the key influencer to the person in charge. Now that is an interesting role to have. Key influencers often have an incredible amount of power through influence that is not associated with their titled role. Further, being a key influencer is the best training ground for leaders.
A good key influencer, the person behind the leader, is often a remarkably demanding and critical role. Good leaders will cultivate key support teams. Leaders often hesitate to make decisions without first hearing the suggestions and perspectives of an influencer. A respected influencer can also raise new issues with credibility. Some of the most rewarding roles are key influencer positions. It is a role with a lot of informal political and business power. They are indispensable to leaders.
Second is often best
When you really think through the role of an influencer you will come to the conclusion that it is a pretty good role to have. Influencers can be considered the heir apparent. They generally have insider information and knowledge about pending decisions. A discerning influencer is a sought after internal resource. There is merit to spending a lot of time in the influencer role. Influencers don’t have the same optics and performance demands that leaders have. Being second fiddle is a pretty good place to be.
Hone your skills
The influencer role is the perfect stepping stone to executive leadership roles. If you can find an influencer role grab it. From that position you will observe executives in action. This affords you the learning opportunity of seeing how to lead and how not to lead up close and personal. You will see the subtleties of corporate management and the related legal activity. People talent management and a host of other HR related skills we be front and centre in the discussions. An influencer role is a great place to hone your leadership skills.
Who is an influencer?
The attributes of a good influencer are;
- Good communication skills – written, verbal, and presentation
- Think at the 50,000 foot level and to think strategically – those are different skills
- Understand financial information
- Be trustworthy and loyal
- Understand the business and the industry
- Be unafraid to speak the truth – tell it like it is
- Being flexible
This list could go on but these are the highlights.
Go get it, or make it
You will not see the influencer role advertised. Every company should have one and leaders need them. If you can’t identify the influencers in your business then they are very good at their jobs or there isn’t someone currently filling this role. You can target the role if it exists by beginning to model the role and working toward becoming the support person to the influencer. It the role does not exist then you should align yourself to someone who has a strong upward mobility and become their key influencer. That way you learn the role and you may in fact follow on their coattails.
Does being an influencer appeal to you? Why?