June 20, 2011
The Power of Influence by Dennis Clemmer
I wasn’t able to attend the celebration of Tom’s 20th business anniversary so I sent a note to be read at the event and emailed him about getting together for lunch. It was over 20 years since I had seen Tom. He and I worked for the same organization prior to the launching of his business, and I had served as his manager. Now Tom was a successful businessman, and I thought it would be fun to reconnect and hear his story.
Upon meeting at the restaurant Tom gave me a warm hug. He truly seemed glad to see me again. Over lunch we got caught up, reminiscing about the days we worked together and some of the crazy things we did to keep work from getting too tedious.
During the course of eating our lunch Tom turned to me and said, “One of the things I am trying to be more intentional about is thanking those who have contributed to my success. You are one of those persons. You were the first professional who truly believed in me and affirmed my abilities.”
I was dumbstruck. I was unaware that I had had such a significant impact on Tom.
Driving back to the office I thought of others who have worked under my leadership, wondering if they, too, would view my impact on them as positively as Tom had. I also reflected on a number of persons who have contributed to my development as a leader.
As I thought about these persons, it was easy to identify key characteristics that impacted me the most:
Vulnerability – The most influential leaders in my life were quite comfortable admitting what they didn’t know. They talked freely about mistakes they made and took responsibility for areas in their lives that they thought needed further development. It’s freeing to work with a leader who is truly “human.”
Humility – Ray was one of my first mentors. I consider him to be the most humble guy I have ever met. While well connected with “movers and shakers,” he was equally comfortable relating to those less well off. This humility, demonstrated by a respect for all, regardless of their lot in life, had a great deal of influence on me as a young man.
Curiosity – Persons who have had the most influence on me were never satisfied with pat answers. They exhibited a keen inquisitiveness about situations and people. They knew that things are not always as they appear, and that curiosity is a great antidote to rushing to judgment.
Thank you, Tom, not only for taking the time to express your appreciation for my leadership, but also for reminding me of those who have positively affected my life.
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