Treasure from the AWI Past
Four years ago I wrote a post about “words” and focused on 2 that women seem to rarely use. Not sure why we rarely use them; but nonetheless we do. Perhaps it’s because we’re women and the words have a male sound to them.
I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself because time fleets and it’s a very busy day for me with a large local event this evening. So I dug into our treasured archives to find words I think are as appropriate today as they were in February 2015. Thus without further ado, let me introduce the following. . .
The Power of Words!
“A few weeks ago (in 2015), I wrote about the power of words. How they impact us in positive or negative ways. It runs in my mind that I suggested a yearly series on same, calling it “alphabet soup” and determined to use the alphabet to prove my point.
Today I return to that theme determined to share how two words can make or break us as we pursue our destiny design. The words?
“LEVERAGE” and “INFLUENCE”. Two powerful words, often used, but rarely understood in the full context of their meaning!
Whether used as a noun or verb, “leverage” relates to pressure applied that advances one’s chosen desires – or that of others. Influence is coupled with leverage as the 2nd cog in a wheel to give leverage the advantage.
“Influence” relates to the action or process of producing effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of another or others. It is the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others.
Combining the two words in life implies we can and often do use our influence to leverage the best we can for ourselves – and hopefully for others as well!
Needless to say – they are “power” words that have the raw ability to change our lives and that of others in positive – or negative ways.
I bring these two “power words” together because women in general and especially women in business and professional life rarely mention the “influence” they have to “leverage” what it is they want! And when they do, it’s almost in a whisper. Somehow it doesn’t seem very feminine to talk about “influence; leverage” – even “power”. We’ve been well schooled in such thought because many of today’s female “power-brokers” don’t seem very feminine (imho of course!).
Yet without the intestinal fortitude to develop a level of influence in the lives of others in order to leverage our knowledge, skills, abilities and wisdom for our own benefit and that of our families and friends – we may never achieve that for which we are destined!
From Personal Observations!
Here’s a few observations I’ve made over the years relative to women, influence and leverage:
- Women rarely use the word “leverage”. We do however, talk about influence and will eagerly share the folks who have had considerable influence in their lives.
- Women who step up to a leadership role often fail to strategize around personal-professional influence. When we do, we don’t often combine it with leverage. In other words, using our influence to leverage what is needed isn’t the 1st, 2nd or even the 3rd thing that comes to mind when putting together a strategy.
- Even women in direct sales who are taught to make the “100 name list” may fail to connect the idea that the list represents those with whom we have some level of influence. And that the influence we have is the leverage needed to develop a client base and build a team.
- Women entering the business world in some capacity bring a little-recognized skill that has the capacity to greatly impact their success. That skill is the power to positively influence decisions in the home – especially if they are a mother. In fact, women bring a great many home management skills to our business or professional life we don’t recognize as being transferable.
Certainly influence and the ability to use it to leverage what we want and need is an invaluable skill in any life arena!
- Both words are ‘relational’. It’s difficult to influence others without some level of relationship. And we certainly can’t leverage something of which we are unaware. Even in a world of social media connections; we can develop relationships of influence even without ever meeting face to face. And when influence has a positive impact on a relationship; each party can leverage same for the benefit of the other.
I’m sure there are many more examples; but these are what I’ve gleaned over the years. With that said, I’d encourage the following:
- Women, don’t fear using the influence you have. As long as our motives are clear and our intent is to do no harm; influencing others weaves strength into our relationships that keeps them strong.
- When planning for business development and growth; think of how you can use the influence gained to leverage benefits for yourself and others.
- Learn how you influence and the level of influence you have with others by asking them. Gain self-knowledge about the ways you influence others and what impact it has on them. It will build your confidence and supply the fuel to press leverage to a whole new level.
Words are powerful. They have considerable impact. I can tell you that in years past, the words “influence” and “leverage” held a negative connotation for me. Perhaps because my experience with folks who used them was negative and left me feeling diminished. But the words are neither negative nor positive. It’s how we use our influence that makes the difference.
And when we use it for good – for the benefit of others as well as ourselves; we can have no fear in leveraging it to reach the level of success we desire. In the process, we will positively impact the lives of others as well.
Linda S. Fitzgerald, M.S.Ed, CEO & Visionary Partner
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