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Leaving a Legacy of Influence: Are You Making a Difference?

In a previous blog post, I challenged you to consider whether your influence is "negative" or "positive" – which leads me to this week's question… what did you decide? Are you a "negative" influencer or a "positive" influencer? Or do you believe it really doesn't matter? After all, what does it matter if you're effective in getting the results from people and organizations you desire? Whatever your influencing style, here's a thought from author J.R. Miller: "There have been meetings of only a moment, which have left impressions for life, for eternity. No one can understand that mysterious thing we call influence, yet every one of us continually exerts influence, either to heal, to bless, to leave marks of beauty, or to wound, to hurt, to poison, to stain other lives."


In today's fast-paced and interconnected world, the concept of leadership and influence has evolved significantly. Leadership is no longer just about authority and control; it's about our impact on the people and organizations we interact with. Whether your influence is negative or positive should matter deeply to you because it has far-reaching consequences for those you lead and your legacy and personal growth.


Negative influence can manifest in various ways – from toxic leadership behaviors that erode trust and morale to manipulative tactics that prioritize personal gain over the well-being of others. It might seem like you're getting results in the short term, but in the long run, the damage caused by negative influence can be irreparable. It's essential to recognize that even if you achieve short-term success through negative means, it often comes at the expense of long-term sustainability and personal well-being.


On the other hand, positive influence is a force that can transform individuals and organizations. It is rooted in empathy, integrity, and an authentic connection for the growth and well-being of others. Positive influencers inspire, motivate, and empower those around them to reach their full potential. They create environments where trust flourishes, and people eagerly collaborate and innovate.


So, what kind of influencer are you striving to be? To help you answer this question, let's review the after-effects of negative and positive influences on your leadership journey and the people you lead.


Negative Influence:

  1. Short-term gains and long-term losses: Negative influence may yield quick results but often comes at a significant cost. Toxic leadership behaviors can lead to high turnover rates, decreased morale, and a toxic work culture that hampers productivity and innovation.

  2. Erosion of trust: Trust is the cornerstone of effective leadership. Negative influencers tend to erode trust by prioritizing personal agendas, making promises they can't keep, and showing a lack of transparency. When trust is lost, it's challenging to rebuild.

  3. Diminished personal growth: Leaders who focus on negative influence may see their careers stall because their reputation precedes them. Opportunities for growth and collaboration may dwindle as others become wary of their intentions.

  4. A legacy of negativity: Your leadership legacy is forged by your impact on people and organizations. A negative influencer's legacy is often one of discord, missed opportunities, and a trail of broken relationships.


Positive Influence:

  1. Sustainable success: Positive influencers build solid and enduring foundations for success. They create environments where people feel valued, motivated, and empowered to contribute their best, leading to long-term success and growth.

  2. Strengthened relationships: Positive influencers foster meaningful connections built on trust, respect, and open communication. These relationships enhance teamwork and create a support network to help you overcome challenges.

  3. Personal and professional growth: Embracing a positive, upbeat influence style promotes personal and professional growth. As you invest in others' development, you also reap the rewards of continuous learning and improvement.

  4. A lasting legacy of impact: Positive influencers leave a legacy of inspiration, growth, and empowerment. Their influence continues to shape the lives of those they've touched, even long after they've moved on.


In conclusion, choosing between being a negative or positive influencer is not trivial. It shapes your leadership journey and the lives of those you lead. While focusing solely on short-term gains may be tempting, authentic leadership goes beyond immediate results. It's about creating a lasting impact that transcends time and leaves a positive mark on individuals and organizations.


So, I encourage you to reflect on the kind of influencer you want to be. Are you content with fleeting success achieved through negative means, or do you aspire to be a beacon of positivity, guiding others toward their full potential? Remember, as J.R. Miller wisely noted, we continually exert influence. The question is, what kind of influence will you choose to exercise?


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