Congratulations to Michael P. Parker and Glenn M. Parker whose latest book, Positive Influence: The Leader Who Helps People Become Their Best Self presents engaging and instructive lessons with each turn of the page on a savvy leadership style, relevant to todays’ beleaguered business environment.
Positive Influence is chock-full of insightful strategies told well.
Backed by the Parkers’ extensive experience in organizational leadership and development, readers will find value in the interviews and stories of individuals who have been profoundly and positively influenced by a coach, manager and/or peer and how those experiences inspired them to succeed — even when confronting negative influences. Of the hundreds of leadership books I’ve read and the few I’ve kept, Positive Influence is the latest keeper.
The following analysis of the book is based on my perspective, observations and takeaways as a woman in business leadership. My views and opinions do not represent what the authors may have intended.
Positive Influence espouses a new leadership approach that stands in a class of its own. It reads, writes, and advocates what the nation longs for today ― inclusive leadership. Indirectly, it comprises elements of top leadership styles including authentic leadership, servant leadership, and transformative leadership. While, it is none of these, it is more than all of them.
Positive Influence benefits all emerging leaders and offers much-needed self-awareness for those already in leadership positions.
Revolutionary for Anyone Management
Positive Influence is revolutionary for individuals in management. The Parkers have put a laser focus on an awareness of and gratitude for a male manager’s support network. Men and women leaders face their share of pressures and challenges. However, no one can say (in truth) that he or she has advanced alone. Positive Influence emphasizes this point with salient interviews from leaders across various industries.
The concept of a “leader who helps people become their best self” aligns with characteristics of a transformative leader. However, becoming an “agent of change” may take some persuasion among men in corporate America because employee rewards are often based on appraisals designed for individual achievement. This has been a stumbling block for teams. However, the Parkers disclose that anyone who lifts another up, not only helps other people become their best selves but also creates a culture of positive influence. It is the essential character trait that an individual must possess today to be recognized as a leader at the workplace and in the global economy.
The four leader profiles the authors define, such as the leader teacher, supporter, motivator, and role model, are important to today’s rapidly changing market. In the throes of a competitive work environment where “every man is for himself,” it is more common for young men to engage in self-promotion over promoting others. So, embracing selflessness and altruism might be a challenge for younger males. Nonetheless, as the book infers, men who can become “the leader who helps people become their best self” are doing a great service for others and ultimately advancing their influence within an organization.
Professional Development Tools
The Parkers provide tools that help individuals become more aware of their primary leadership approach. They share established methods to improve leadership influence and effectiveness and present several upsides to individual leadership awareness and style. The interviews imply that emerging leaders can boost followership, reach of influence, and rewards of reciprocity when he or she engages in role modeling and mentorships, as well as supportive and motivational leadership styles.
The authors’ insights reveal effective, positive leadership is essential in today’s agile workforce. The book guides leaders away from the traditional transactional leadership styles. It directs the reader’s focus on identifying those who have made a difference in the reader’s career journey, recognizing the traits of and identifying as a positive leader, and paying-it-forward to the betterment of others.
This book can kindle new purpose and meaning for those who may consider a leadership position or those leaders who may have forgotten the long-term impact they exert on their employees each day.
Revolutionary for Women in Management
Despite long held stereotypes, Positive Influence may be even more revolutionary for women in management. Many of the ideas in this book have brought voice and value to women against a backdrop of the undervalued yet multifaceted roles they must fulfill: homemaker, caregiver, and professional. Although the book closely aligns to servant leadership (particularly in terms of empowering and helping followers succeed), by centering on “leader profiles” rather than fixed leadership styles, this book covers leadership approaches, regardless of gender.
Under the Positive Influence model, it is still questionable as to whether men, particularly those in position of authority, will evaluate a woman as a skillful leader when she volunteers to “help people become their best self.” Often, when women “help people” it is expected and viewed as a norm for her gender role. However, when a man is helping people it is viewed as a skill and an initiative that shows he has gone above and beyond.
Positive Influence Leadership Profiles
Leadership profiles include the supportive leader, teacher leader, motivating leader, and the role model leader. The profiles represent both men and women, and in terms of gender and work roles, they contribute to a shared mentality. That is, teaching has historically been associated with a feminine-communal role or occupation, but the term “teacher leader” connotes a role that is acceptable for all genders.
Under traditional leadership styles, a supportive leader can be defined as one who provides tasks and basic employee resources. Positive Influence reminds the reader that to be recognized as leaders today, individuals must do both and more. The supportive leader is emotionally in tune and ready to say, “I am here for you and together we will get through it.” At face value, this approach might leave professionals scratching their heads in the workplace — especially knowing (under antiquated social norms) that employees are to check their emotions at the office door. However, the definition of “supportive leader,” appears to remove the stereotype and alleviate any potential confusion. The good news is, unlike the charismatic leader or other leadership styles that tend to imply gender, there is a higher likelihood that both sexes will be able to see themselves and their opposites (as equals) in the fulfillment of these profile roles. To that end, the four profiles themselves help to define both communal (and agentic) leadership roles ― a welcome addition in the world that needs more equitable leadership.
The authors’ anecdotes are transformative, particularly as the pandemic has shifted employees to a work-from-home model, wherein men currently face some of the double-shifts that women have faced (and managed) since Rosie the Riveter.
The Parkers’ anecdotes engaged me. I could imagine myself as one of the individuals in these stories, likewise able to picture all the people who have had a positive influence in my life and career. The authors’ narratives tend to open the reader’s mind and elicit self-reflection. It’s not farfetched to say, some readers will develop new perceptions of their capabilities as they read Positive Influence. The Parkers power to impart such positive insight can compare to other acclaimed leadership gurus, like Warren Bennis, author of On Becoming A Leader.
Overall, the authors have single-handedly delivered a dynamic leadership approach that represents both men and women, thereby dismantling some gender role barriers that have persisted.
A big thank you to Michael P. Parker and Glenn M. Parker for this meaningful contribution to the science, art and power of inclusive leadership.
Please comment & share: Who were the positive (or negative) influences in your life?
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