Creative Leadership

Never Forget the People Who Indirectly Influence Your Journey

For whatever reason, I’ve always recognized that many people indirectly contribute (or detract) from our mission in life. In high school, I was always amazed at the “bad boys” who ignored their girlfriend’s parents – especially since those parents held the permission for when and how often their daughters could go out on a date. And why make an enemy of a teacher who controlled my grade? At work I learned pretty early that secretaries, assistants, and even janitors often held the key to access, relationships, or networks that could help me in my career.

A great leader never forgets the power of indirect influence.

In a book by James Wierzbicki on Dick Clark and the classic 50’s rock and roll TV show “Amer­i­can Band­stand,” he shares that Dick was thinking the same way. He relates that as a mas­ter of show­biz cun­ning, Clark in­sti­tut­ed a strict dress code for the en­thu­si­as­tic bop­pers who ap­peared on TV screens all over America: no shorts, slacks or tight sweaters for the girls, and neck­ties with ei­ther a sweater or jacket for the fel­lows. “No­body dressed that way in real life,” Mr. Wierzbicki quotes Clark say­ing, “but it made the show ac­ceptable to adults who were fright­ened by the teenage world and their mu­sic.”*

The question is: Who are the people who indirectly impact your goals?

Focusing on the leaders, supervisors, investors, or donors who directly help is important, but never forget that many on the periphery of your career or calling can make a dramatic difference.

Do you have any stories of how people on the fringe of your journey make a difference for you?

*Excerpt from the Wall Street Journal book review.

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