5 Things Influential People Do Best
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

(Image: Thinkstock)

We all have people we admire, and when it comes to career advancement and boss moves, successful leaders have mentors and sponsors who provide the inspiration and guidance.

For me, many power women and men I look up to embody common traits or strengths. Maybe their branding is on point or their career path is admirable. Maybe they have strength in areas where I’m weak, providing much-needed lessons on how to turn them around. Maybe they hold a position where I’d like to be one day, or their interests and goals are similar to mine.

Forbes contributor Mark Fidelman takes things a step further by examining influence and the traits that many great leaders and successful celebrities have that have nothing to do with their position or industry clout. He writes:

“When you actually examine today’s influential people and how they became influential—the picture has changed dramatically. Influence is both a natural and learned quality that is developed over time. It can still be inherited, received by winning an election, or conveyed by a new job title—but that’s becoming less prevalent now. …

Many of these influencers have mastered the art of communicating what everyone else is thinking or what they should be thinking. They are curious and always ask, ‘What’s important here?'”

He goes on to detail things that awesome influencers do “better than anyone else,” compiled by he and the team over at Forbes. I’ve chosen five standout habits and qualities of my own that I’ve witnessed among leaders I seek to emulate (and for some, surpass.)

They are quiet storms, even in the face of turmoil. A mentor-friend and entrepreneur who works in banking once told me, “Never give anyone the luxury of seeing you lose your cool, even if they deserve it.” I have witnessed this same friend keep her cool in situations where someone reneged on an agreement or treated her unfairly. She manages millions of dollars for her day job and industry professionals and events in her night job, yet still remains centered, calm and collected. It’s quite a thing to watch and learn from, especially for a young professional like me who has a fiery temper and quick tongue. These types of leaders go further than those who give in to every urge to tell people where to go and what to kiss.

They don’t take no for an answer and typically find alternates way to get a yes. Another entrepreneur I admire and like to emulate is awesome with the art of the ask. If he gets an initial no, he already has an alternative plan to find some kind of way of working with someone and getting what he needs—whether its at the time of his request or a way to position for a future request. People always end up coming back full circle to work with him after the initial no.

In some cases, he’s asked me to do things, and my initial answer may have been no (probably due to timing or schedule conflicts). I’ll still end up being involved in one capacity or another. These are the types of leaders who, you chuckle to yourself and think, “He/she still got what he/she needed done, didn’t turn anyone off or burn any bridges, and in the end, managed to turn a hard no, into a soft maybe, and later into a bigger yes.”

They are solutions- or ‘bright-side’-focused. Some misguided people see that “glass is half full” mentality as unrealistic and delusional. But think about people you admire, either in your life or celebrities, who are often more focused on the positives than the negatives— even in a sticky situation. Many of them are extremely successful and manage to rise above scandals and negative press. They are often highly supported in their networks and really have the confidence in knowing that having a bright outlook on life only draws positivity to their endeavors, whether personal or professional.

Look at it this way: Has thinking negatively about anything you’ve approached led to success? Do celebrities Gucci who wallow in negativity and conflict find more deals, money, or advancement in doing so?

They have the gift of gab. Ever been in a room with someone who’s a great storyteller? Whether truth or lies, they are able to command attention and get people to make them the focus. And if you’re not careful, they can sway your thoughts and opinions in their direction, even if you’re in another lane.

If you can get people to listen to you and positively relate to what you’re saying— even if they don’t agree— you’ve still won. In this fast-paced, time-is-money world, people like to pay attention as much as they do their taxes. Anybody who can make it worth someone else’s while to spend their time capital on them is winning in the game of leadership and influence. If you’re able to dynamically communicate with people, you can change minds, hearts and lives.

They are very good with spotting emerging money-makers and trends. Many entrepreneurs are millionaires today not because they were able to jump on a bandwagon after it picked up speed, but because they’d built that bandwagon and were driving it before they got sick of it and made a new and improved one. Being able to foresee something that will be a hit or popular among people is like being able to spin gold from your own fingertips. My favorite leaders (and sistergirl/mentors-in-my-head) were all able to spot a niche or void and fill it, adding their own flair and purposeful tentacity in the mix. Innovators are constantly thinking about ways to make the world better or how to motivate others to do so.

What traits prompt you to admire or emulate the leaders you relate to? #Soundoff and follow Janell on Twitter @JPHazelwood.

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Janell Hazelwood

Janell Hazelwood is associate managing editor at Black Enterprise, managing content across core areas of Money, Career, Small Business and Technology. She is also a featured blogger with My Two Cents, providing insights on branding, millennial career development, employment trends and leadership. She was previously a content producer and copy editor for Black Enterprise magazine, working across several editorial sections. The Hampton University graduate got her start in the newspaper industry, having worked for companies including The New York Times and Scripps Howard News Service. Her works and insights have appeared on The Huffington Post, MadameNoire, E!Online, Brazen Careerist, CBS News, and Arise TV.


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