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Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #157: How to Increase Your Influence Up, Down, and Across

October 7, 2021
Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #157: How to Increase Your Influence Up, Down, and Across

Leadership is influence, and influence is a 360-degree skill. Toady, Chris and Perry talk about the new 360-Degree Leader Coaching offering and the importance of leading up, down and across.

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Read the Transcript:

Perry Holley:    Welcome to The John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast. Where our goal is to help you increase your reputation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others, and increase your ability to fully engage your team to deliver remarkable results. I am Perry Holley, a John Maxwell facilitator, and coach.

Chris Goede:     I’m Chris Goede, vice president of The John Maxwell Company. Welcome, and thank you for joining us today. Hey, don’t hesitate to visit and leave Perry and I a question, maybe a comment. Or even if you have an issue that you’re dealing with as a leader, that we could build some content around you and do a future podcast. We would absolutely love to do that. You can also download Perry’s show notes for today, and learn more about some of the virtual and in-person training that we’re doing. What I love about what we’re going to talk about today is really close to Perry’s heart right now. And what he’s working on and spending a lot of time with, not only coaching leaders, but helping us develop some content in order to help you. Help leaders that in the future would like to access some of this content.

And it’s really built around John’s 360° Leader. And so Perry has gone back to the drawing board, and helped us with some of that content. So today’s topic is going to come straight from that, and our conversation is going to come straight from that. And what he’s living out every day, and what he’s hearing on his coaching calls. And so the title today is, How To Increase Your Influence Up, Down, and Across. And again, going to go back to you, this is right out of our 360° content. But we’re going to talk about it today in regards to what this is looking like in the coaching program. And so Perry, so grateful for you, your ability to take content, make it very practical, and then be able to share some of the things that help leaders become more influential at all levels. And so talk to us a little bit about what you’re seeing in regards to this.

Perry Holley:    , thank you so much. Influence is a powerful thing. And we often talk about it, we think about leading and leading down to people that might report to us, or are on our team. Where you’re the boss, and there’s others. And that’s an important thing to know, for sure, when we talk about The 5 Levels and how influence works, and that’s a wonderful thing. But what I’m finding in almost every coaching and facilitation situation that we’re working with a number of clients. Is that there are huge opportunities to grow our skills influencing across to our peers, and influencing up, as well, to our bosses, or to people above us in the organization. And I just finding right now that your effectiveness can go up through the roof when you have great influence. Not only with the people that report to you, but the people besides you and the people over you.

So it’s been an amazing eye-opener for me, and I decided to develop a little deeper content that all of our coaches could use. I’m about to complete a one-year process with one group. And they have really complimented me on the fact that they never thought about, “I need to develop influence with my peers?” And so I think that’s one of the best-kept secrets of man, right there, is doing that.

Chris Goede:     So many times as leaders, we think about increasing our influence with our team, or maybe our boss, right?

Perry Holley:    Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Goede:     And we miss out on this whole 360 approach, and John would call that The Law of the Lid for your leadership. And until you truly understand the influence is not only across, up, and down, all of them, then I think you’ll have a lid on your leadership. And what I loved about what you just said, and I just want to bring this to the attention of our listeners. Is that when we go through and develop content from you, we don’t bring it to you unless we’ve vetted it out, lived it out, fleshed it out. And you mentioned, man, we’ve been on a journey, and I’ve been coaching. And now I’m taking what I’m learning, and taking what resonated and what didn’t, and we’re putting it together to be able to use, right?

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Perry Holley:    Yeah.

Chris Goede:     So absolutely love that we do that, love that you did that. But-

Perry Holley:    Well, it’s funny. You said it on the previous week, maybe, about how John did the 21 laws. And how he has had an idea, and he floats it out at a lunch with someone, and then talked through it at an audience, or has somebody a question about it. And so The 360° Leader has been out for quite some time, but we tend to do more 5 Levels coaching. And so I had some clients that were asking, I thought, “I’m going to try a few things.” And so I did a little outline, and then you try a couple of concepts, and then you ask a few questions. And you think, “Well, that didn’t work. Well, that did work.” And then start putting it together. So I don’t know if my client knows that they’re a test subject, or not.

Chris Goede:     Yeah, let’s not tell them that. Yeah, so the overall response has been very good?

Perry Holley:    Yeah, very positive. Yeah, it’s been an eye-opener. Most people say, “I think about leading.” They don’t use the word leading down.

Chris Goede:     Correct.

Perry Holley:    But they think about, “The people that report to me.” And so we call that leading down and developing influence down. That is the primary way that people think about it. And when you start opening eyes that influence is 360 degrees.

Chris Goede:     No doubt.

Perry Holley:    And if you better know that, because you are influencing, and it could be negative if you’re not careful.

Chris Goede:     No, no doubt about it. So let’s do this, then. Let’s get practical, let’s actually give some thoughts around some tips of what you’ve learned from using this new content, this new approach with some of our coaching clients. And I know just a minute ago, I think I know this answer, right?

Perry Holley:    Yeah.

Chris Goede:     Because we talked about it. But from the different areas that we talk about it as a 360° Leader, which have you seen the biggest impact through the coaching process?

Perry Holley:    By far, leading across. It is the most overlooked by leaders, to know that each of us in the organization, and we have a team that reports to us, we have a boss that we report to, that’s all obvious. But we have a peer group. We have other managers on the team, other executives on the team. And we generally, “I don’t have time for them. My life is consumed with things coming down from my boss, and me talking to my team.” And that when the pressure is on, we’ll attempt to influence our boss, but we spend very little time thinking about, or executing influence with our peers. And I think it’s an area that most of us could work better on.

And when you have a positive influence with the other peer leaders on your team, you open a door to much greater collaboration, teamwork, problem-solving. You start to build relationships, and you find out, as we often do, that, “Wow, you struggle with that too?” And, “Now I have a colleague that we can share things together, I’m not alone in this. Other people have insights, they have a different sets of skills that may help me, and I may be able to help them.” It’s just a fantastic door to open, but it’s a challenging door to open. Because with most peers, there’s some maybe competition.

Chris Goede:     .

Perry Holley:    Or, “I don’t want to let you get ahead.” You’ve probably seen a lot of that.

Chris Goede:     Well, yeah. Yeah. And there’s, I call it the closed vest, right?

Perry Holley:    Yeah.

Chris Goede:     Where you think about people just saying, “Yeah, no. Why would I want to share what’s going on, or help?”

Perry Holley:    .

Chris Goede:     And if we’re just being honest, that’s just not our true flesh nature to do that. But the advantage is, by doing that, and you mentioned a lot of them, I think from a culture standpoint. I just want to hit on some of this, of what it creates in a culture inside an organization when we have leaders that are like this. I think one of the things is we begin to knock down these walls of what we call silos. And you begin to have that cross-functional team, and approach, and communication, and it’s has a drastic effect on the culture.

I think also, it allows your peers to speak into certain directions, certain vision of where you may be leading, that can be enhanced if you’re open to it. And yet, if you don’t, we have those little blinders on, as I put my hands up around my eyes. That could limit you, and limit your team, and limit the organization. And then, in turn, limit those customers that you are having the privilege of impacting. So let’s continue, give us some tips that you have learned about leading across.

Perry Holley:    Well, number one is I find that this is true for me, too. Is that I think I know my peers, but I don’t. I’m not spending any time building a relationship with them.

Chris Goede:     .

Perry Holley:    But then when I need something, I kind of jump right to the, “Yeah, I need something.”

Chris Goede:     Right into it, right to it. Yeah, via email. Yeah.

Perry Holley:    Yeah, I’m trying to really influence you. I need to influence you to help me out real quick. But if you spend some time building those relationships, you take away any feeling that you may be manipulating them to get something for you. It’s more motivating for them to engage with you, because you’ve taken time to get to know each other.

Chris Goede:     This goes back to The 5 Levels of Leadership model. And I know we’re talking about 360 content, they go hand in hand, by the way.

Perry Holley:    Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, it’s influence, yeah.

Chris Goede:     It’s all about influence. And so I’m sitting here thinking about what you just said. And I’m like, “If we go about influencing people the right way, up, down, and across. When we do need to go to level one, and communicate in level one, there’s trust there.” Remember, trust is the currency to all leadership, all influence. And so when you think about that, and to your point, I was just thinking about that. I was like, “Yeah, how many peers of mine do I just reach out via email and say… ” What is that statement where it says, “Let me help, I need you to help me help you” right? Instead, it’s the other way around. It’s like, “Help me help me.” right? Like –

Perry Holley:    Oh, but you . You start with a good level two sentence, “Hey, hope everything is well with you. Have you done well? How is the family? Could you get this for me” right?

Chris Goede:     Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s right, that’s so funny. And so going back to what John calls this, he calls this the leadership loop, and it’s really about the connection piece. Where he says, “You start with caring, and learning, and appreciating others. Next, instead of you thinking about how they can help you, why don’t you think about how you can add value to them?” Now, all this has got to be done before you send that email. Months, maybe years, right?

Perry Holley:    Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Goede:     As you build that influence. And then that will open the door for you and your peers, that will generate the benefits that we mentioned earlier.

Perry Holley:    Well, I saw this years ago, this picture called the leadership loop. And it had this, get the caring, and learning, and appreciating, and all these steps, these seven steps. And I thought, “This is the dumbest thing. I’ve never done… ” And I realized why I’m not having the highest effectiveness, was I’m not doing these things. It’s not silly, it’s actually is simple to do, which makes it simple not to do. And I just tend to skip over it. So I love that there’s a thought put to it about how I generate those relationships, and have a better chance of building trust with each other. And then that opens the door for influence, I think, that…

A number two lesson that I learned was there’s a lot of competition potential between peers. We’re both maybe working for the same boss, and you’re trying to get ahead, I’m trying to get ahead that I can compete. And we call it in the 360, and the coaching, and we talk about, “Can you learn to complete your peers versus compete with your peers?” And make sure you know the difference between good competition and unhealthy competition. There is good competition, but it can get unhealthy in a hurry.

Chris Goede:     Yeah, yeah. This is, we talk about the abundance versus scarcity mindset when it comes to helping others win. And let me just share this example with you, it’s just relevant. In my life with my daughter, who’s an athlete, and she’s very competitive every day in practice. And so she’s sharing time right now with another individual on the team in a similar position. And my daughter is an extremely hard worker, and reaches out, different coaches. And like, “Hey, can I get extra reps?” And, “Hey, can we spend an hour in the gym? And can you help me with passing here?” And she plays college volleyball. And so she comes to me and she said, “Dad.” She said, “Man, I’ve been doing this. And now all of a sudden, this other girl on the team, now she’s starting to show up for these one-on-ones and these lessons. And if I’m getting 1% better, and now she’s there getting 1% better, I’m never going to get more time on the court.”

And I just smiled, and I was like, “Listen, totally get it. I love the vulnerability you’re telling me here, okay. Let me give you a different perspective of what this looks like. You may not, okay, get more playing time off of what’s happening. However, you’re modeling what it’s taking to be a better college athlete. And now, all of a sudden, another team member is showing up, and another team member is showing up. And all of a sudden at the end of the year, your team may be 1% better as a team, versus this peer… ” It’s a peer of hers. ” …they’re competing, being 1% better.”

Perry Holley:    That’s great.Chris Goede:     And it was just, she heard me. In the moment, she hears me. The lesson hasn’t set in yet, but it’s a perfect example, right? And now, because she’s driving behavior that others are starting to come alongside with, the organization or the team as a whole is going to be better. And that’s what we need to do as leaders. We’ve got to have that abundance mindset from a leadership standpoint. So anyways, just wanted to share that with you.

Perry Holley:    Oh, no, I love it.

Chris Goede:     It’s kind of a real-life situation what’s going on about peer.

Perry Holley:    I love it because, no, it really is about, do you think, end of the week, end of the month, end of the season, going to have more influence with people, or less?

Chris Goede:     Yeah, yeah.

Perry Holley:    Yeah, more.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. And then I also told her, “When you’re in these one-on-one sessions, do you think you get a little bit better when that individual is present and you’re pushing each other?” And she’s like, “Okay, Dad, that’s enough. I got to go.” Right? But think about that with leaders, as you bring it alongside. I mean, John always talks about the fact that when we’re thinking and leading together, we’re better than we are by ourselves.

Chris Goede:     So, okay. So let’s move to then leading up.

Perry Holley:    Okay, yeah. So leading up, influencing your boss, or those over you in the organization. I think my number one tip for that is, you’ve absolutely got to do your job extremely well. If your boss has to worry about you, and what you’re doing, and whether you’re performing your job effectively or not, your influence is going to suffer. And you’re a boss, do you agree with that?

Chris Goede:     Listen, I have an incredible team. And they’ll come to me periodically, and they’ll be like…

Perry Holley:    And they do listen to this.

Chris Goede:     Huh? Well, we think they do.

Chris Goede:     Perry and I have asked them to do that. We’ll do a little test. If you’re listening, then send Perry an email. But they’ll be like, “Hey, what can I do? Is there anything I can take off your plate ?” And this is what I say, “Keep doing your job better than you’re currently doing your job.” That right there alone, to your point, is so powerful as a leader, they got to do their job very, very well. The other thing, too, is I love to see in this, as a leader, I love to see the team challenging themselves to grow and get better. Whether it’s coming to the table saying, “Hey, I learned this last week.” Or, “Hey, I tried this last week and it failed.” All of those things play into them leading their self really, really well. And I think when I see that, they’re leading up to me, and it’s extremely powerful.

Perry Holley:    Well, the second tip I really was looking forward to asking you, because this one gets a little bit of a crinkled nose. Or people looking at you kind of, “What do you mean by this?” But it’s one thing we teach, and I love it, but I wonder how you see it. It talks about John would teach that, “Don’t simply manage your work effort, be a leader.” So he’ll say, “Don’t manage, lead.” I wonder how do you see that as a boss, looking at your team?

Chris Goede:     One of the things I get frustrated about with the work that we do, from a consulting/coaching kind of standpoint. Is that we hire people for, around our organization, we call it the three Cs, right? The culture, the competence, and the character. And there’s a need in the organization, and we’re hiring these individuals to fill that. And then we get them inside the organization and we don’t want to lead them, we want to manage them, and we just tie them down. And I think as leaders, man, one of the things that we’ve got to do is allow our team to do that, and allow our team to flourish. And so for me, back to this question that you asked, I think it’s, I love for our team to have a point of view, and to share something a little bit differently. It’s even like why we’re here today, 150 plus episodes. You heard the first one and were like, “I got to go help Chris.” right? No, I mean, you leaned in and you said, “Can I help you with that?”

Perry Holley:    Well, to be fair, you asked.

Chris Goede:     “Do you want to do it together?”

Perry Holley:    Yeah.

Chris Goede:     I think it was a leading question, I think it was a coaching moment that very led me down the road. But I think we’ve got to be open to that. I think we got to have people that are thinking like that owner, versus a hired hand. And one of the other big things for me, is that I love when people see problems out in front of me, and identify them, and they bring them to me. But they bring a couple of solutions as well.

Perry Holley:    Mm-hmm (affirmative), right.

Chris Goede:     And saying, “Hey, here is three options. I think this one would really work to solve that problem, but I just wanted to bring this to your attention.” And that’s huge for me. And that’s what I like to see as a leader.

Perry Holley:    It’s been an eye-opener for them, when I bring this up on the coaching. Is that they said, “So many of the people on my team are just managing what I’m telling them to manage. They’re not acting like a leader.”

Chris Goede:     Yeah, no. Yeah.

Perry Holley:    And I said, “Well, that’s on you. You need to grow them as leaders, and grow their influence.”

Chris Goede:     That’s right.

Perry Holley:    “They should be growing their influence with you, and you can help them grow their influence with you.”

Chris Goede:     It’s a multiplication effect, right? We’ve got to figure that out.

Perry Holley:    Yeah.

Chris Goede:     So, all right, well, let’s wrap it up with leading down.

Perry Holley:    Yeah, leading down, we talk a lot about The 5 Levels of Leadership. And the importance of not leaning on your title or position, to manipulate others, to get things done. So I think my number one tip is to climb the 5 Levels with every member on your team, it’s as simple as that.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. And as we’ve talk about, all of the work in climbing those levels are done at levels two, three, and four. Level one and level five are given to you. So what are we doing as leaders to connect with our people, and build relationships at level two? What are we doing to produce as a team? And then what are we doing to develop leaders? And that’s level four. And so I think if you think about that, that has got to be your mindset as a leader. So as we wrap up, and then I’ll let you close, we are all always on this journey, period. Right? We have to be thinking about this 360° leadership approach at all times. And one of the things that I love about this is that we’re bringing this content to life through coaching. And we do have some training around it, but really the coaching process.

And so, so grateful again that you said, “Man, let me take this and let me try it out on a few people. But then let me create a guide that we can then help leaders around the world do this.” And so it is powerful. I have obviously seen the content, and we’re wrapping up putting the finishing touches on it, to be able to use it with organizations. And so again, my closing comment comes back to, if it’s something you’re interested in, go to the website that we share with you, Make a little note in there, we’ll follow up and get that content to you right away.

Perry Holley:    Absolutely. Well, I think it’s a game changer for all of us. If you’re thinking about leadership as just one way, looking down, that’s easy for people to say, “I’m not a leader then, I don’t have people that report to me.”

Chris Goede:     That’s right. That’s right, influence.

Perry Holley:    Hey, you’re a leader because you have influence, or not. So you can lead across, and up, and develop that influence. And it goes back to The Law of the Lid. Is that the more you develop that, the more effective you’re going to be in all of life, not just at your job. So I’m very grateful for that. As Chris said, if you want to know more about The 5 Levels, or this 360° Leader content, you can go to You can also leave a question or a comment for us there. We love hearing from you, and we’re always grateful that you would spend this time with us each week. That’s all today from The John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast.

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