In the busyness of our lives, it seems too common to always be looking ahead and thinking about the things we need to do, or the goals we have, or on things that are worrying us. However, I would like to encourage us to keep in mind something, really important that I pray we never lose sight of—-as influencers (whether it’s at work, church, or in our homes), we influence others. How we behave matters to those who look us for guidance. Our employees, or members of our church, or our children probably won’t verbalize that they look to us as a role model, but they do. So how intentional are you in being careful to act wisely in front of your “followers”? How careful are you to avoid living in a way that can be harmful to your followers if they proceed carelessly in this lifestyle not having the same constraints or maturity you have?
With this thought of our influence on others, I wanted to pass along this excerpt from an outstanding book, “The Intangibles of Leadership” by Richard A. Davis, PhD:
“When Albert Bandura , Stanford University’s famed psychologist, realized that children learn more from observing others in action than anything else, he changed the face of psychology forever. It all started when he put a bunch of kids in a room and asked them to play with whatever toy they wanted, in whatever way they wanted. Then, and adult came in and proceeded to savagely knock around one of the toys, a blow-up Bobo doll (you know, the kind that never fall down). When the adult left the room, it turned out that the kids inevitably took some swipes at the doll too. The children Bandura observed weren’t necessarily persuaded to act in a certain way by being told to act that way- or even, to Bandura’s surprise, by being positively reinforced for it. They were most influenced by just seeing someone else act a certain way or perform a certain task, whether that person was actually trying to model behavior or not. They mimicked adult behavior regardless of whether it was consistent with what the adults were telling them to do. This, Bandura said, is how we learn behavior.
For most people, their parents provide a convenient example for understanding Bandura’s theory. Think about your politics for a moment. Are they similar to your father’s? For most people, they are. But this doesn’t mean your dad sat you down every night and explained his political views to you. It means that, whether you were consciously absorbing it or not at the time, you heard him discussing world events, commenting on issues of the day, making pronouncements at the dinner table about this bill, that government, or whatshisname who just got elected to office and how in the world did such a putz ever get enough votes he’ll never know. In other words, your dad directly or indirectly, taught you politics.
Lastly, let me encourage you influencers to intentionally reflect on your interactions with others these past few days. How did you come across to them? Were you opinionated before them, or were you asking questions of them and listening to their thoughts?
Were you patient?
Were you angry?
What did you express your views about?
Was your time rushed because you are so busy doing your work that you have little time for relationships?
How encouraging were you?
How discouraging were you?
Take the time to evaluate your behaviors and how others might perceive your actions and attitudes. I believe it might be eye-opening for you, as it has been for me.