How to Win Friends and Influence People as a Leader

The most important aspect of your leadership is your relationships.

Far too many people miss this. They think influence is earned through accomplishments, public speaking, or certain status marks, such as clothes, an executive office, or a coveted front-row parking spot.

The truth is those things matter little beyond your ability to win people over and get them to follow you. If you can’t do that, then you’re not a leader. A leader, as John Maxwell has said countless times, is someone who has followers. If you don’t have a single follower, then you aren’t a leader.

A leader should always do three things well:

  • Connect with people. It’s critically important that you get out from behind your desk and spend time with people. Start with your team.
  • Invest in people. You are where you are today because someone invested in you. Now it’s your turn to pay it forward.
  • Build up people. High performance may have landed you in leadership, but it won’t keep you there. The best leaders recognize it’s about helping others excel at whatever they are doing.


But there’s only so much time in a day. So how can you win friends and influence others consistently enough to make an impact? Here is how I incorporate those goals into my workflow:

  • Digital Content. I invest in writing for this blog, magazines, books, and even producing podcasts because those platforms help me scale my influence to reach a broader audience than I could before.
  • Mentorship. If you know me, then you know my passion for mentorship. I make certain to make time for this on my calendar. That’s how it gets done.
  • Text Messages and Social Media. I don’t always see everyone in my network every day. I use text messages and social media to stay connected with others. It’s incredibly valuable and easy.
  • Conferences. I don’t go to these as often as I used to. Most of the time I’m speaking when I do. But when I go, I try to identify people I want to connect with and set up a time for us to get together.
  • Phone and Video Calls. I know, I know. I’m still old school sometimes. There is nothing like talking to someone on the phone. However, you get so much from non-verbal cues that can often be missed on the phone. When a phone call just won’t work, I will use video call platforms to provide an even more personal and immersive experience to the encounter.
  • Face-to-Face Meetings. These are really “expensive” since my time is so limited. I reserve much of this time for my team. I want them to know they are important and their success matters to me.


You’ll have to find your combination of connection points. Go with what works for you. There is no magic formula. Just be consistent.

However you choose to approach building your influence, the ingredients are the same; you need to be human, genuine, and gracious. If you embody those things as you make relationships a priority, you’ll build a tribe of followers and exponentially expand your influence.