Leadership expert Marcel Schwantes says you can build your influence by getting others to respond emphatically to your leadership. The starting point is to first remind yourself that leadership is not dictating, commanding or imposing. It is being of service to others (yes, to your customers but especially to your employees).

It is empowering others to achieve their goals, bringing out the best in people, putting their needs ahead of your own (as a leader), and helping them develop. This is called servant leadership and it's one of the highest platforms to launch you toward influencing others. It's also great for your bottom line, says Schwantes.

Consider following these Are you looking for influence in leading and making decisions? I submit the following as your road map for success:

1. Gain the trust of others.

The foundation for everything related to your leadership has to be built on trust. Conventional thinking says that people have to earn trust first, right? But it has been found that, in healthy organizations, leaders with a servant mindset are willing to give trust to their followers first, and they give it as a gift even before it's earned.

2. Let go of your ego.

An unhealthy ego can be a liability on the performance of the business. A leader with a healthy ego is one who has mastered the paradoxical balance of personal humility with confidence and fierce resolve.

3. Demonstrate competence.

A strong character in service to others is crucial, but trust goes out the proverbial window if you can't demonstrate knowledge and expertise in your particular field or industry that will carry the vision forward. That includes the ability to communite that vision, so followers are actively engaged in pursuing it. Competence builds confidence in your people. And their confidence in you, the leader, will ultimately deliver excellence.

4. Inspire others to find their voice.

In traditional, top-down hierarchies, bosses at the top of the food chain will lay out a vision, then use power and control to move people to carry out the vision. In today's social economy, leaders will cast a company vision and enroll their followers to express their voice as co-creators and co-contributors to the vision.

5. Develop a cultural identity.

Companies like Google and others have distinctive corporate identities that attract great employees. You'll find these corporate cultures usually centered around giving employees ownership over decisions (shared leadership), authenticity (open communication, expression of thoughts, ideas, and perspectives) and the building of community (collaboration, diversity, inclusion).