Dogs Dont Bark at Parked Cars Jeff Piersall

Coach’s Corner: Influence Not Imposition

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“If your actions inspire others to dream more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

John Maxwell defines leadership as one word: influence.

Leadership is influence – dictatorship is imposition, yet both require influence. So the question must be asked: “influence of what?”

The best definition of all the thousands of opinions I have read over the years came in a book written by Richard Barrett: “Leadership is courageously pursuing a vision in such a way that it resonates with the souls of people.”

Compare the results of Hitler and Martin Luther King, Jr. It is indisputable the difference in lasting impact. Hitler spent his time in authority as a dictator – directing, telling, and using fear to motivate the minds of people to follow him despite what they believed. People who followed him did terrible things that normally they would have never done without his influence.

Conversely, King spent his time biblically speaking to the impact of equality, and his message resonated with the souls of people thus creating change and positively impacting millions of people and changing the course of the future in a positive manner.

Influence is all about liberating the truth in someone – like Michelangelo, who once said that he didn’t carve a marble block into a statue, rather he liberated the figure that was already there imprisoned in the stone, and leaders by Barrett’s definition are able to inspire the greatest of the individual by bringing out what is already in them.

Will Smith said to Matt Damon in The Legend of Bagger Vance, “Yep… Inside each and every one of us is one true authentic swing… Somethin’ we was born with… Somethin’ that’s ours and ours alone… Somethin’ that can’t be taught to ya or learned… Over time the world can rob us of that swing… It get buried inside us under all our wouldas and couldas and shouldas… Some folk even forget what their swing was like…”

The leader will provide an environment where partners and employees are given the opportunity to do what they love and do what they are great at doing. Dan Sullivan calls it an individual’s unique ability. Your swing is your unique ability, and leaders inspire that swing to be found and glorified to levels of excellence.

If you can get your players on the team to spend 80{bfd614f294d07c51b84c8dad33a56885001f0ed7300088ac66752d3246377d5a} of their time in their unique ability you will have a high performance team that achieves extreme success. Their college degree does not determine their unique ability – what a person is passionate about, what lies in their soul, determines their unique ability.

Coach John Wooden refers to unique ability as “competitive greatness” – the ability to be your best when your absolute best is needed the most. What would your team look like if everyone on it was achieving and doing their BEST?

There are three fundamentals that can help you become a person of more influence, not imposition.

LISTENING – it’s a two-way street. It’s the ability to hear what someone is saying without your personal ego putting a slant on it. When receiving constructive criticism, human nature is to throw up our guard and start defending our position instead of listening. People who have the guts to point out what you are doing wrong care about you, so listen, process and improve.

SERVICE – it is not about you but it will always be up to you. Leadership is all about servicing someone else’s needs, not your needs. Here is an age-old philosophy coined by the late Zig Ziglar to help you understand the fundamental of service: “If you help enough people get what they want, you will get more than you want.”

FOLLOW THROUGH – The fortune is in the follow-through. It must be constant and efficient.

In an interview with Golf Digest magazine in 2002, Gary Player recalled an experience while practicing in a bunker down in Texas. A man he described as “a good ole boy with a big hat stopped to watch.” The first shot the man watched Player hit went in the hole. He said, “You’ve got 50 bucks if you knock the next one in.’ ‘I holed the next one,” Player recalled. “Then he says, ‘You got $100 if you hole the next one.’ In it went for three in a row. As he peeled off the bills he said, ‘Boy, I’ve never seen anyone so lucky in all my life.’” Player shot back, “Well, the harder I practice, the luckier I get.”

You must practice the fundamentals of listening, service and follow-through in order to achieve the greatest of leadership. Influence that resonates with the souls of people.

Heed this warning: “good structure is worthless without the right people.”


Jeff Piersall, a former award-winning collegiate basketball coach, is the CEO & Founder of SCB Marketing, an innovative content marketing company that inspires brands to higher levels of success by elevating trust and connecting brands with key people of influence. Jeff is a successful entrepreneur, business consultant, speaker and co-author of “Dogs Don’t Bark at Parked Cars.”

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