Mark Uhlenberg established The Heartwood Group, LLC to actively influence client’s outcomes.

What does “Active Influence” mean and why is it important to achieving results and transformation?

Active Influence™ is best described by the words “engaged” and “involved”. It is the antithesis of being passive or reactive. As a leader, business owner, spouse, or parent; you can find yourself becoming less engaged or involved with your relationships, employees, teams, and businesses. It may be an issue about some key employees you don’t want to take on or aren’t handling effectively. It could be an issue in the business or industry that causes you to “hope” for something to work itself out when all the signs say otherwise.

The reasons are many and recognizing when passivity happens is the key. My experience working in and with organizations over the years is that many too often manage by hoping that things will change. That the market will turn around or the competitor will quit eroding margin in the marketplace. That the difficult or struggling employee will get back on track without feedback, supervision or coaching. You want to assume that everyone knows what their job really is, how important it is to you and where the business momentum is really headed. You hope that things will change…somehow.

“Hope is not a strategy”, makes a catchy book title. The real brutal truth is worse, hope is the raw material of losers. I’m talking about complacent or passive hope that is inactive. Letting your future show up without your involvement. You may get lucky, but often you are disappointed with the outcome. We don’t get in action to change something we know isn’t working because we are afraid it won’t work. It’s already not working. I would rather have you engaged in seeking your best future and come up short than to have you sit back just waiting for the same or less result.

There is another powerful kind of hope. Hope that believes things can and will change. This abiding hope in a better future is a completely different thing. It is trusting in your future regardless of current circumstances. Faith and hope are power packs you can use to light the way during some dark days in your life and career. That kind of hope and faith is active and alive. It’s a belief in a future and wanting to participate in its coming to be. There is nothing passive about that hope because you are in action.

Moving from being Passive and Reactive makes being an Active Influencer a natural outcome and you more powerful.  How does Active Influence inform or impact leadership development or culture-building?

Active Influence drives/fosters development in others, yourself, and everyone involved. It can be no other way. It supports the defined culture of a business and influences outcomes by actively impacting performance, it’s about applying the right engagement and action for the individual, team, or business situation. It isn’t that you won’t be developing as a leader, you will. The key utility is about applying yourself to the opportunity and need at hand most effectively to influence an outcome for the future. That application could be better development or a more powerful culture, but it should be tied to achieving the future you want and need. Influencing it.

It is a proactive and customized approach that helps individuals be more agile, proactive, and predictive in their actions. There is way too much passivity among many managers and business owners. I can find passivity during times of stress and in times of success. Passivity is something we must guard against. Don’t dust your house for a few weeks or months and see what things look like. The need for proactive and predictive managers is never-ending and never needs to be in short supply.

The Active Influence creates transformation and influences the future on an ongoing basis (becomes the norm). This is your time to become more powerful. Power is defined and experienced in many ways. I define power for my clients as the following.

“Power: the increased and repeated capacity to take actions that shape the future for positive outcomes.”

It’s that simple, why overcomplicate it? You can figure out what IT is that you need, want, or must act upon. I can’t promise that you will get exactly what you want, fall short or exceed it. I can promise that you will become more empowered, effective, and focused if you practice the simple approach of Active Influence. It’s not complicated, but it has some complexity. The complexity becomes more welcomed as you embrace being involved in life and work rather than being a spectator. Life is simple when you are a passive actor or reactor. You are operating on low power with nothing in the tank left. You aren’t plugged in!

A PRO-ACTOR or predictor are practitioners of applying the right approach to influence the future and outcomes. Knowing your power is when you know how to apply the right method to a challenging business situation, a team performance issue, or struggling employee’s issue. Positional power is one dimensional and has its limitations, even when parenting! However, it becomes somewhat irrelevant as a method. In fact, it never was a method…it was a spot on an organization chart.

In the next Blog we will begin the discussion about the 3 tiers of power involved in Active Influence. I call them tiers, but they are as much 3 separate domains of power that are building blocks and yet constant. I think this will be quite easy to understand or intuitive as we go through each area of power. Here is a quick primer.

Influencing to the First Power is about Yourself. We will elaborate, but we must become a more powerful self before we can begin to influence much else. Influencing own self will be the title of next Month’s blog.

Influencing to the Second Power is about Your Employees, Direct Reports, and others under your organization umbrella. This is about growing your power to influence your most precious asset. Your human capital is the most valuable asset you have to influence the future. We will dive into the heart of the Active Influence™ model in this area.

Influencing to the Third Power is about Those Outside Your Control. The focus in this area is to help you grow your capacity to act and cooperate with those that impact your future, but that you have no control over.

“Building a language for how to actively influence the present and future is the first step.”

Once we establish some language and awareness together the practicality of the Active Influence approach will be easily understood. I hope you will find this series of blog topics useful and practical. This not a conversation about just power, but about influence and using the right method. There are 5 methods in this approach that you have already used, read several books about, and experienced through effective leaders yourself. They are Coaching, Mentoring, Facilitating, Managing (Supervising), and Leading.

I have gone through a few iterations, different applications and have refined my thoughts on how to engage my clients (and you the reader) in using these methods of influence most effectively as a business owner and people leader. I almost called it a coaching model, but that was too narrow. I had it nailed for quite a while as “Active Leadership” and that became too limiting as well. I wanted something that would broaden the perspective beyond just “situational leadership” or “leadership style”. What I was really after is growing your power to be actively engaged and involved in influencing your best future.  Active Influence is my best and most simple thought on how we can create together a more proactive approach and become even predictable in producing outcomes.

So, I invite you to come along and participate, give me thoughts and input into Active Influence. We will discuss tools and situations for each of these methods. I want this to be a valuable conversation.

Next Blog – Influencing to the First Power – Yourself