Testimonial

Photo by Brian Bateson

The Foundation of Active Influence  

PURPOSE:

Begin to move from understanding Active Influences as a concept to grounding and integrating it into your role as a leader. And how it requires a shift in thinking along with specific tools to firmly ground the process of change to being more ACTIVE.

KEY POINTS:

  • Introduce Systems Thinking and why it’s important
  • Role of strategic alignment in becoming an active influencer
  • Blueprint is a tool and process to help you:
    • View current state from a systems perspective
    • Assess strategic alignment (or lack of it)
    • Create a foundation and pathway to move towards future

In a blog post from earlier this year I explored what I call the “Third Power” in Active Influences. I said that “influencing to the Third Power is about expanding your capabilities to influence through relationships. Your power comes from being strategically involved with the entire system that impacts your ability to achieve your desired outcomes.” Becoming “strategically involved” with the many systems surrounding you is an absolute necessity in your quest to actively influence your future and that of those around you.

Your power comes from being strategically involved with the entire system.

Systems Thinking

Strategic involvement requires a major shift in perspective. You need to take a step back so you can see the bigger picture.  “Systems Thinking” is a way of helping someone view systems from a broad perspective that includes structures,patterns, cycles and intersections, rather than just a specific area of focus. You will come to realize that everything is part of a system.

Engagement, as I’ve covered in earlier A.I. posts, requires
you to be “aware, fully present, and
connected to the system and its parts.”
Systems are living and breathing
entities; they exist within a larger environment or larger systems. Outside
forces will always impact and change outcomes. Because of this, it’s usually easier
(and faster) to work on our own “piece of the pie” and ignore the surrounding
systems. Be aware — this narrow-minded focus will severely hinder your ability
to be an active influencer.

You will come to realize to a greater degree that everything is part of a system.

Strategic Alignment

Active influencers have clarity of purpose, have created strategies that align and support their purpose, and possess a plan or map to ensure they achieve what they’re after. They are also acutely aware of the bigger picture – the systems within which they operate and the systems around them that they impact. How are they able to do all that? It can be quite intuitive — and easier for some leaders than it is for others – yet it is always full of complexity depending on any given situation or business chapter.

You may question how to get a handle on the intimidating task of dealing with multiple systems, people, resources and situations — while keeping a firm hold on strategic alignment, and pushing forward to achieve the goals you’ve set!

ActiveInfluencers are acutely aware of the bigger picture – the systems within which they operate and the systems around them.

I have something that will help. It is a deceptively simple tool and accompanying process that will allow you to “see” exactly where you are now (current state),where you want to be (future state), and a clear path to lead you there. The trick is to think of it as a practice or tool and not the end game. It’s the means to better results.

A Strategic Blueprint Will Help You Achieve Strategic Alignment

I’m sure many of you know what a blueprint looks like. You may have built several structures or homes. In my soon-to-be-published book on Active Transformation I go into detail about how important a blueprint is to truly transforming yourself, teams, and organizations. It’s about alignment. I have done hundreds of blueprint sessions with clients in the process of thinking strategically together. The clients continue to show me just how little we know about how to think together, align more effectively, and drive accountability.

Having a well thought out blueprint is essential to transforming yourself, your teams and organizations.

Your blueprint is your base.You wouldn’t borrow, invest in, or engage contractors to build something without an agreed upon plan or blueprint. It is a simple and foundational approach to making sure you wind up with the end product you wanted and paid to get. It aligns all the individuals involved in following specific plans, codes,and prioritizing needs. When something is amiss (and it will be!) we go back to our plans. We may need to make a change, but we know exactly what to deviate from and can create a pathway to get us back on course. The process of building a blueprint enables you to back up and view the situation from a systems viewpoint and…

  • Begin to see strategic alignment(or lack of)
  • Determine what “must” happen to achieve the desired future
  • Map out concrete steps forward

Purpose of Having a Tool

Having a blueprint tool in hand provides a consistent, comprehensive and strategic approach to:

  • Honestly assess the current state of a business, issue
    or opportunity
  • Formulate
    a desired “future state” (goals, vision or outcome)
  • Identify
    actions and deliverables needed to achieve the desired goal/vision/outcome
  • Get
    EVERYONE involved and engaged at a more robust and effective level than
    ever experienced before
  • Release
    the collective skill, energy, and wisdom of a team or organization towards
    well-understood deliverables — which brings ACCOUNTABILITY

When done within an organization or team, the process is led by a facilitator and typically takes a day to complete; it may take longer depending upon the depth of issues identified and level of group participation. Developing a blueprint requires solid teamwork to prioritize,choose and define realistic deliverables.

The process can also be used by an individual. Using a mentor or coach to help guide you through and hold your feet to the fire can be invaluable. However, the tool is simple and straightforward enough to use without any assistance. In whatever environment it’s used, working through a blueprint process serves as a powerful catalyst and driver for growth and transformation.

I’ve provided some visuals to give you an idea of the tool/process I’ve just described. I was first introduced to this framework at a Linkage, Inc conference many years ago that was focused on Strategic Thinking. I’ve told you it’s “deceptively simple“– and you can see that it is. I did not say, however, that it was easy! The best way to work on solving issues that seem complex is to use an uncomplicated process.

The Process

The Blueprint Template

Actively engaging in the blueprint process serves as a powerful catalyst and driver for growth and transformation.

Are You “All In”?

When I first introduced “Active Influences” in this blog Isaid it was “best described by the words ‘engaged’and ‘involved’. It is the antithesis of being passive or reactive.” The act of creating a blueprint is a crystal-clear indication that you are “all in” –fully engaged and involved! If you use the model I just passed on to you, you will have taken a monumental leap in integrating Active Influences into your life. Remember — your blueprint is your base. Hold on tight to it, we are going to keep building together!

Blueprint as Base


“Mark is a person of quiet confidence, who has attained leadership in his own life through attitudes and beliefs that he passes on to others in ways that deliver new insights into personal possibilities. He is a joy to work with because even though he may be in a management relationship he acts like a co-worker. Mark’s offer to coach others is made through a spirit of sharing and service, more than personal gain. I have gained new insights into who I am, what I am committed to, and what I can offer in my business and professional life.”

JOHN OSTHUS

Blue Spring Communications, Manchester, MO

-John Osthus


“Mark Uhlenberg is a seasoned professional with exceptional integrity. He is a great sounding board but also offers his suggestions and expertise. Changes made in the business as a direct result of working with Mark have increased our customer base by 10% in a 4 month period and decreased my personal stress level as the business owner. Clarity and peace of mind regardless of my personal or professional circumstances has led me to better decision making as a business owner.”

KATHY GAGE

Owner, Marvelous Maids, O’Fallon, MO

-Kathy Gage


“I have been receiving coaching and consulting from Mark on a regular basis for the last nine plus years. The rewards have been many on both a personal and professional level, including better self awareness, leadership skills, interpersonal dialogue skills, and gaining a much better understanding of how to balance the time demands of running a business while having a quality family life. I would highly recommend Mark as a professional coach and consultant for guiding and enriching the pursuit of your next personal or professional chapter in life. Strong recommendation – 5 Stars!.”

JAMES BARMORE

Owner, GPS Dairy Consulting, Verona, WI

-James Barmore


“Mark has coached me for almost 4 years now. Mark has been an encourager to me and his heart for the Lord sets him in a great place to coach well. Mark has helped me gain clarity both regarding decisions and vision for my ministry. If you want someone who can ask questions that make you think, Mark is your man.”

ROB JOHNSON

Christian Fellowship Union, Leon, Mexico

-Rob Johnson


“Mark is an insightful and steadfast professional with a broad range of experience. His depth and tenacity have been consistently demonstrated both in corporate and individual settings. Whether you are dealing with a complex intractable issue or one of lesser magnitude, Mark has the background and skill to help clarify and resolve both individual and organizational issues.”

BILL LINDBERG

President, The Ash Grove Group, Inc., Santa Barbara, CA

-Bill Lindberg