by Gale Mote/Tree Full of Owls

On March 10, the Corridor Business Journal and our communities will honor the 2011 Women of Influence. We benefit greatly from their vision, passion and commitment.

Influencing is the ability to get things done through others. It is inspiring action and commitment without using authority. It is leading change, building teamwork and achieving positive results even in the face of great adversity.

In 2008, the Gallup Organization published Strengths Based Leadership, which identifies three keys to being a more effective leader: knowing your strengths and investing in others’ strengths, getting people with the right strengths on your team and understanding the basic needs of those who look to you for leadership including hope, stability, compassion and trust.

In the book, Gallup identifies four domains of leadership strengths — influencing, strategic thinking, executing and relationship building. Each of these domains is made up of a number of unique talents and strengths. Influencing is about reaching out to a broader audience, inside and outside the organization. When you need someone to take charge, speak up and make sure the group is heard, you look to someone with the strength to influence.

As we honor this year’s Women of Influence, let’s reflect on five unique talents that help ordinary people accomplish extraordinary results.

Maximizer is a core talent of people of influence. According to authors Tom Rath and Barry Conchie, “People strong in the maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.”

Find out what people do best and then put them in roles where they can excel. Seems logical, but too many leaders spend time trying to put a square peg into a round hole. When you have big goals and limited resources, getting the most from your people is essential to success. Maximizers are passionate — they ignite performance by inspiring people to rally around a purpose bigger than themselves. They have the right people in the right seats of the bus to make it happen.

People of influence take risks, trust in their judgment, set high goals and consistently deliver. Self-assurance is a talent that gives people the confidence to know their decisions are right. Being accountable without blame or excuses builds credibility and trust. Admitting mistakes and learning from them keeps the team moving forward. Leaders with this talent inspire confidence in others. They are quick to recognize small and large actions that move the organization in the direction of its dreams. A person of influence often believes in others when these people no longer believe in themselves. They lift a person up and create a positive self-fulfilling prophecy.

Another talent for a person of influence is Activator. “People strong in the Activator theme can make things happen by turning thoughts into action. They frequently are impatient and know that only action leads to performance,” write the authors. Not making a decision is a decision in itself. Activators are consistently asking the question, “When can we start?” They recognize that small wins and positive momentum is critical in leading change. People want to follow others who get things done, make significant contributions and walk the talk.

Communication is critical when influencing others. Being able to engage in thoughtful conversations and making presentations to help others see what you see is core to the person with this talent. People listen to you because you connect with their hearts and minds inspiring them to act.  The ability to really listen, give and receive feedback helps leaders to develop the performance of individuals and the team. Be thoughtful in choosing the right words for the message you want to send. Tell the story — share the journey.  People will learn and commit during the process.

Woo stands for “winning others over.” Meeting new people, making connections, building relationships and networking help people of influence build a larger audience for their cause.  Sincere and genuine, people with the Woo talent develop contacts that turn into long-lasting partnerships. Information is power and shared information is powerful. Wherever you can, share what you know and have learned with others to keep everyone on the same page and moving in the same direction. Connect people with others who can help them accomplish their goals — be the conduit that helps the right hand to know what the left hand is doing and why.

I am blessed to have many people of influence in my life — family members, colleagues and friends. When I reflect on those who have made the biggest contribution, I think about their passion, confidence, drive, persistence and ability to say what needs to be said in the right way.  They build bridges, not walls.

As we honor our 2011 Women of Influence, listen for the talents and strengths they bring to all aspects of their lives.  Learn from them — celebrate with them.

Gale Mote is a trainer, organizational development catalyst and coach in Cedar Rapids. Contact her at