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The power of influence in leadership


Lanre Olusola

According to John Maxwell ‘Leadership is influence,’ an individual is greatly attached to a leader because the person has a direct or indirect influence on them, so that whatever they do sparks up something in you.

The concept of influence is a very delicate and serious one. An individual can become the result of the influence he put himself under whether consciously or subconsciously. How we talk, dress, where we go and what we do are influenced by the people we talk with, listen to, and the places we go to. An example of influence can be drawn from the story of Martin Luther King in 1963, while addressing the crowd in Washington. The “I Have A Dream” speech isn’t just a speech but can also be seen as a point of influence and till today, whenever that speech is being read, it triggers something in the heart of the ‘black’ man. Whenever a person puts himself under an influence, it has the capacity to have an effect on their decision and action when triggered.

The topic of influence cannot be fully understood without discussing Leadership alongside. The term “Leadership” is first organic, in the sense that the power of Leadership first comes from within and not a title or a status one acclaim. Every individual has the capacity and ability to lead and also influence. According to Sociologists, every walking human being has the capacity to influence 10,000 people in their life time, and Leadership experts also say that every single individual can lead 200 people per time – that means irrespective of what your title, status or educational qualification is, every human being has the ability to lead, and if a person has the capacity to lead, that means he or she has the capacity to also influence.


The question remains: “How do you tap into it?” This question brings me back to what I wrote earlier that the power of Influence and Leadership comes from within before flowing outwards. The problem in today’s world is that a lot of people want to influence people from their affluence, without knowing that the power to influence comes from who you are, and as a result the moment those people get off that possession, the influence they have on people dies automatically which is because it didn’t come from within. It is expedient that you have a strong belief in who you are, and be confident enough to reveal that person to the world.

A good number of people are attracted to persons with strong pleasant personalities because this is a major influencing factor that draws people to you subconsciously. Therefore, the first foundation of Influence and Leadership is YOU; you must be able to identify with yourself on your inside as someone who can influence.A lot of individuals struggle when it comes to identifying and understanding who they are. This is because they haven’t been doing a lot of deep searching in order to understand how they work and who they truly are. A lot of people base their influence on ‘what they are’ but the irony is that the moment they are not that person they were before, they automatically lose their identity. Everything they were didn’t come from within but from what they had, the connections they had, their title or status in the society, etc. All these things are temporary and do not define who a person truly is.

Some people in the world today have what is termed “Identity Conflict”. This happens because they put themselves under an influence that does not project their true purpose. These influences can come in form of the environment where they find themselves or different negative influences most of which will not align with anything positive that their purpose has to offer. The moment one begins to realize that he has something more to offer, he begins to have an identity conflict; this is because all along, the individual has been under a wrong influence that does not align with who he or she truly is.

Influence should be used as a tool for greater good and not as a weapon – the moment it is used as a weapon, the outcome is usually negative. Positive influences are used to direct and inform, while negative influences are used as a weapon to control and manipulate. The moment a person feels like he is being controlled outside his or her own will, then there is need to re-trace their steps.


In order to grow and be all you can be, it is important to put yourself under an influence that helps you make the right decisions and aligns with your desires and progress. Influence should not be seen as power over people but power with people. To influence someone positively is to get someone to do something he wouldn’t have done on his own, but you know he enjoys doing that. When you are influenced to do something and you regret doing it, then there is a problem.

Positive influence helps a person unveil their real self. When you surround yourself with individuals who don’t make you feel like yourself, you become the person’s echo and not the voice, and when that voice finally comes, you will fade away, because you’ve been living off someone else’s persona and not yours. That said, once you find yourself responding to a vibe that you don’t like, you have the power within you to shut it out, because those negative vibes start polluting who you are, corrupting what you are and what you want to give out.

At the end of the day, you are the result of the influence you have come under, therefore surround yourself with positive influences.
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In this article:
Lanre Olusola
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