When I first realized I wanted to become a coach and organizational consultant, it was because someone influenced me. It wasn’t intentional on their part and they never knew their influence set me on a new journey.

I was well into adulthood when I completed my master’s degree.  I was living in England at the time and I discovered a powerful program at the local university. It was an intensive course – a commanding study on leadership, transformation, and the role of business in society.  It spoke to me because too many organizations at that time approached work with an “assembly line” style.  Tasks were completed with little thought as to how or how the employee felt about their role.

The Power of Transformative Leadership

One quarter, we had a guest lecturer that would teach us every Wednesday afternoon.  He was regarded as one of the leading thinkers in the field of Transformative Leadership.  His work was based on emerging research from neurology and psychology as well as his own exploration of human consciousness over thirty years. He worked with Fortune 500 companies, international organizations, and even the United Nations.

In between lectures, he traveled extensively. He would regularly share insight into his client experiences.  Whether it was listening to how he began his day with meditation and yoga on the beaches of Goa, India, his lectures at other universities, or the impact of change that was occurring in his clients’ organizations, I was mesmerized.  He ignited a spark in me that still burns today.  A spark of imagination, a spark of courage, a spark of transformation, and a spark of drive to deepen and act upon my own vision.

As I think back to those times, I clearly remember how motivated and excited I was to approach a new career. If I can give a fraction of that motivation and insight to those I coach, I figure I’m doing well.  But, it is not without work. It is a progress and it deepens through time as I deepen my own vision.

What makes someone influential?

When it comes to leadership, some people seem to be naturally inspirational and influential. Others work on it a bit longer and harder. Whether you are climbing up the corporate ladder or want your voice to be heard, your influencing skills are a foundation of leadership success.

You can gain influence through a title, but the greater level of influence comes with your capacity to become a compelling force that can drive results. Influence goes beyond being honest, trustworthy, ethical, and moral. The most influential leaders share common characteristics that win people over.

The top 5 characteristics of influential people

1. Having a Message That is Well-Communicated and Remembered

Influential people are not afraid to have a larger-than-life vision. They hone that vision and everything they do is a deliberate step towards making that vision a reality. In marketing, the term “effective frequency” is used to define the number of times a consumer must be exposed to a marketing message before the advertiser gets the desired response.  An influencer will not only verbally communicate their vision, but their beliefs, actions, and intents are mirrored in every behavior. As their message is echoed, retold, and absorbed, their message will be remembered.

2. Not Allowing Public Opinion and Trends to Impact Objectivity

Influencers maintain a steadfast belief system and are brave enough to present a different point of view and perspective. While others can easily be swayed by trends or public opinion, an influencer will seek out facts and form an opinion carefully.  They are not afraid to change their opinion when facts rise to the surface that may conflict with their original ideas, but they will never jump on a bandwagon without facts and research.

3. Not Allowing Others to Control Their Mood

One of the most brilliant comments someone has ever said to me was, “Did you really have a bad day, or did you simply have a few bad moments that you replayed time and time again throughout the day?”

That is a powerful question. How often do you allow others to influence your mood?  So often we let the tiniest events have power over us.  It then influences how we treat others.  We let something of no value impact our emotions and then we take out our frustrations on our co-workers, staff, family, or friends.  As an influencer, your goal is to respond intentionally rather than react emotionally.

4. Knowing That Revolutionary Ideas Are Seldom Born from the Status Quo

Complacency is a career killer. Influential people are not waiting for someone else to lead the way.  They seek out new ideas and experiences.  They drive change. Seeking out something that is outside of your comfort zone can be a terrifying thought. It is not easy to dip your toe in uncharted waters. But that’s where the well of abundance and transformation lies. It is where we grow, learn, and mature in a way that broadens our horizons beyond anything we thought was ever possible. Complacency prevents you from making a powerful impact in meeting your objectives. We must persistently evaluate what keeps us in our comfort zone and what keeps us from executing on the actions that propel us forward.

5. Having a Strong Belief System

Psychologist Carl Jung said, “Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” Influencers have a strong internal self-belief system. They believe in their own power to carry out their vision and are not intimidated by lofty goals. Influencers exude energy, positivity, and a love for their work.  Their energy is contagious and their self-belief acts as a magnet that attracts and inspires others to believe in their vision as well. As the saying goes, it only takes a spark to get a fire going.


Having influence has limitless advantages, but developing influence is like learning any new skill.  It takes time, effort, and an attitude of ongoing development.  Your career is not a work of meritocracy and it is easy to be distracted by trivialities. Be careful not to get caught up in the notion that leaders are born and come by their influence naturally.  If leaders are born, I say “Happy Birthday,” because today is your birthday.

Talent and results are essential for personal growth. Still, you must learn how to promote yourself and bring attention to your exceptional work. Seek to understand how your personal characteristics (tangible, verbal, and nonverbal) impact your credibility and remember you are not in a leadership position for only yourself.  You are there to provide clarity, understanding, and support to your employees. When you make your employees a priority, your influence will automatically increase, and then your employees will more easily reach their potential.

And that’s the cycle of leadership.

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Jan Johnston Osburn is a Certified Career Coach and Organizational Consultant. Her organizational specialties are Talent Acquisition, Training, and Leadership Development. She holds a Master’s degree from the University of Buckingham, UK, and has certifications in Executive Coaching and Advanced Social Media. Her website is www.YourBestLifeTodayCoaching.Com .