Guest Post by Lee Colan

The key to being a powerful leader isn’t giving orders – it’s extending your influence. And one important way to do that is by spreading and soliciting new ideas.

As an influential leader, you are a conduit of ideas. Some are your own, while others are from your team. Some are well-baked concepts and validated theories, while others are raw musings and trial balloons. But to be an influential leader, one way or another, you must forward these ideas and ultimately convert them into action.

Zig-Zag Into Interactions

Many great ideas originate (or are developed) organically, often through informal interactions rather than formal meetings — the adult version of midnight discussions in the hallway of your college dorm. Most such discussions can be about 10 minutes long, and can be stimulated by questions like:

  1. What do you think about this idea I have?
  2. How would you deal with X challenge or initiative?
  3. What’s the first thing you would do if you had my job?
  4. What’s on your dream list of things to work on?
  5. I would like you to participate in X meeting [that the person would not normally take part in]. Will you do so and share your thoughts?
  6. I would like you to discuss my idea with your teammates. Will you see what they think, then give me completely unfiltered feedback?

Rather than schedule these interactions, which can feel too formal and potentially stifling, you should budget five or ten extra minutes to zig-zag your way to meetings, lunch or even the restroom. Pop in on your team and strike up a conversation using some variation on the suggestions above.

While some of your interactions might be in-depth, most of them should simply about connecting with people for no immediate business reason. You can even add in a lunch once in a while with someone you would not typically have lunch with, like someone several levels below you or in another department.

Start small: Try zig-zagging into these conversations once a week for a month … and watch your leadership influence grow.

Lee Colan

Lee J. Colan, Ph.D. is a high-energy leadership adviser, engaging speaker and popular author of 12 books that have been translated into 10 languages. His cut-through-the-clutter advice, which is anchored in his corporate leadership experience and robust consulting business, appears in hundreds of online and print outlets monthly.

You can connect with Lee at


Is Change Your Destination? Drop 5 Question Pins

Guest Post by Tara Martin Lately, I’ve found myself challenging many current beliefs and educational...

The value of letting go of control

Excerpted from the 3rd Chapter of the Just Released “Musings on Leadership – Life Lessons to Help...


Guest Post by Michael Bungay Stanier A few months back, an article in HBR proclaimed the power of...

How Do You Respond?

Excerpted from “Chapter 8” of “Now That’s A Great Question.” Scenario: One of...

The 21 Most Important Questions of Your Life

Guest Post by Darius Foroux One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from reading books,...

4 Questions Under 4 Words Each to Spark Engagement

Guest Post by Chad Littlefield Recently, I gave an interactive keynote in Cartagena, Colombia for the Global...

Would You Rather Hear “No” Or Wonder “What If”?

Guest Post by Mark J. Carter Yesterday I sent out an email asking a question – then soon after sending...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.