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The power of influence

Senior Master Sgt. Travis E. Jones official photo

Senior Master Sgt. Travis E. Jones official photo

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – The power of influence can and will have rippling effects within an organization.

We have all worked for great leaders with the power of influence and they tend to stick out when thinking about who we want to emulate. John Maxwell stated, "Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another."

This has been true throughout my military career. I have experienced supervisors who lead from behind a desk and never connect with individuals within the organization. I have also been fortunate enough to be influenced by those who take the time to get to know their members and take a vested interest in what is going on in their lives, both personally and professionally.

As a young technical sergeant at a conference, I heard a lieutenant general say, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”  This resonated with me as I thought back to the leaders who had the most impact on my career and how each had taken the time to get to know me personally.

It does not matter whether it’s having a cup of coffee with an Airman or stopping our ever-busy lives to turn away from our overpopulated email to listen to what’s really affecting our Airmen – we owe that to them.  

Influential leaders create an atmosphere of productivity by supporting the team and striving for what is best for the organization by empowering subordinates and letting them succeed or fail, all the while supporting them. I have learned more from influential leaders who have let me fail at tasks, but always supported me during the process. It is inevitable we will all fail at some point. What matters is that we pick ourselves up, wipe the dust off and get back to work.

Knowing those in your organization and using creative leadership influence has the power to lead to increased productivity. When you invest time to know what motivates your members you can make more informed decisions on where each individual fits best within the organization and where they would be most productive.

Placing members in a position they are focused on and interested in not only increases productivity but gives the member more drive and determination to complete a task, knowing they feel self-worth in completing a task which intrigues them. The ability to influence an organization bigger than themselves allows members to feel a genuine sense of influence, no matter what their rank or position.

Whether in our professional or personal life, we should always strive to create an atmosphere of positive influence that will have a lasting impact on those we lead. Leadership doesn’t always have to have a top-down approach. There have been many times throughout my career I have witnessed a bottom-up approach to influence. We must not suppress our future leaders and allow them the opportunity to create influence within their organization and support innovative ideas to be implemented while giving latitude to create more effective and efficient ways to lead and develop. It’s our responsibility to reach down and pull up the next generation while deliberately developing Airmen so our Air Force will be better off than when we took over.