How to Influence Like a Leader

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you shared your perspective but it wasn’t received well? Or maybe you wanted to voice your ideas but were hesitant about the possible repercussions? Or maybe you just couldn’t find the right words to express the solution you could “see” inside your head? If any of these match your experiences, read on and discover how you can influence others as great leaders do.


Why is influence important?

In today’s competitive environment, influence is the new currency. If you want to work your way into a better career opportunity, be an influencer of good ideas. If you want to get your employees, your community members or your family on board in a certain direction, influence is more powerful and more sustainable than exerting direct pressure. If you are in a cross-functional environment where you work on various projects with other departments, your success lies in your ability to influence those not under your direct supervision as well as those with whom you do not directly report to.

What does it mean to influence like a leader?

Great leaders get others to embrace ideas and act on them without using their direct power. They don’t need to force compliance. Instead, they get into the minds and hearts of others by showing the VALUE to them individually as well as the value for the organization or other people involved.

What are the challenges to influencing others in a positive way?

People are reluctant to promote their ideas because:

  • Fear of negative outcome.
  • Resistance to change.
  • Poor communication skills.

How can you overcome these challenges?

  1. Have balanced expectations about the consequences of speaking out. Take a moment to acknowledge the worst as well as the best that could result from sharing your ideas. Accept that the actual outcome will likely fall somewhere in between. This allays fear and puts it into proper perspective.
  2. Recognize that no one likes change because of the extra effort it takes especially change that offers no significant difference. For the listener, even changing their perspective has emotional and mental costs. Be clear on why the extra effort is worth it. To be realistic, be upfront about the benefits as well as the costs of change and then focus on how much the benefits outweigh the costs.
  3. Practice being clear and precise in your communication both written and orally. Have simple evidence or data to back up your claims. Most importantly, put the listener first when you communicate by considering how they want to receive information. Be interested in what they need in order to feel secure with your words.

How can you be an influencer in all your conversations?

Recognize that influence is cultivated before any conversation takes place. Influence is earned when you consistently behave in a trustworthy manner. When people feel they can trust you, they will give you their time, attention and consideration. Here are the 5 behaviors of an influential person:

  1. Follow through-You do what you say you are going to do. From the smallest promise to the largest commitment, you honor your word. You demonstrate your reliability and dependability.
  2. Hold yourself accountable-When you make a mistake or realize an oversight, you own up to it as soon as possible. You demonstrate the magnitude of your strength by admitting your vulnerabilities. You demonstrate fairness by holding yourself to the same standard that you expect of others.
  3. Engage in healthy conflict-You encourage a healthy exchange of differences without being judgmental. You demonstrate the belief that the best solutions emerge when all sides are heard and considered.
  4. Communicate honestly-You share information openly and honestly to the best of your ability. You are an active listener, hearing between the words to gather the full meaning of what is being said. You demonstrate a positive intent by being strategic in your communication so that it always contributes to the highest and best outcome. You demonstrate credibility by checking the facts and weighing the impact on others before you speak.
  5. Build others up-You acknowledge the best in others and consistently reinforce them. You demonstrate your own self-confidence by freely giving others the spotlight.

What is different with a formal presentation?

As mentioned earlier, influence is always occurring in and outside of every conversation, verbally and with your behaviors. However, sometimes we are called to present our ideas in a formal setting. Successful influence in this realm requires all the above plus additional planning.

  1. Before you present, know who you will be presenting to. Learn what is important to them. Also, figure out who their influencers are.  Try to have conversations with those influencers beforehand and learn what you can about potential obstacles to your idea.
  2. Open your presentation with a clear and attention-getting declaration about your idea and the positive benefit it will deliver in a realistic time frame.
  3. Create a conversation around your idea by asking probing, exploratory and open-ended questions that will get others involved in a group discussion that could create buy-in spontaneously. This will avoid you getting caught in the trap of having to defend an idea that others feel were forced upon them.
  4. Be ready with next steps to get your idea off the ground if the answer is yes or a positive nod in the right direction. Don’t let expectations of getting a “no” set you up for failure by not having a plan A, B or C to keep the conversation going.

Being able to influence others is key to creating success in every aspect of your life from work, to raising children, to developing strong relationships and social networks. Learn to influence like a great leader by overcoming your own challenges in speaking out and demonstrating trustworthy behaviors in all you do. Then go forth boldly and assert your influence. The world is always in need of one more good idea.

Jo-Aynne von Born, Executive Coach, Trainer

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How to Jumpstart Change

When you ask someone, “How’s it going?” Most people say “okay, getting by, managing alright.” It seems as though for most of us, there is so much to juggle that we hardly have time to think about developing a career and life experience that would have us shouting out an answer such as, “spectacular, outstanding, awesome!”

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that we don’t want the best possible for ourselves. Most people I know do have great intentions to do inspiring work, to enjoy their lives and make a difference in the world. It’s all so admirable.

But have you noticed sometimes how much energy we put out in this regard and how little the return is in terms of moving the needle in overall work and life satisfaction?


We can have all kinds of conversations in our heads about how we want to change, the different decisions we want to make and the new behaviors we want to inhabit. However, in the end, many times it falls on our own deaf ears.

This is where the power of another person can be really instrumental. Specifically, a professional coach who is trained to listen non-judgmentally, to reflect back discrepancies between what we say and what we do, challenge us to think broader and help us be accountable for what we say we want, especially when we feel like throwing in the towel.

A coach is different than a friend or a trusted colleague, both whom may have a vested interest in a certain outcome that benefits them or other parties involved…and there’s nothing wrong with this. Just be aware of it. A professional coach also has a vested interest, except that it’s in the outcome WE DECIDE that is best for us. The coach wins if we win. And that is good news for us.

If you are curious about what’s involved when people engage professional coaches to jumpstart a change or transformation that will put them on the path to unleashing more potential and fulfillment or elevating their performance and leadership, here are the key areas of development that happen with the clients I coach:

  1. Identify what’s Important-Find out what matters most to you, why it matters and how much emphasis you are actually giving it.
  2. Learn to be self-aware-Get a deeper understanding of your character, feelings, motives, and desires. This empowers you to proactively manage your thoughts, emotions and behaviors to be in service to what you want.
  3. Commit to 2-3 Goals-Practice focusing on a few defined essentials for a better chance of success. If you are tempted to overhaul everything, you can become overwhelmed, scatter your efforts and be likely to quit.
  4. Develop milestones as stepping stones-Create small changes that have a cumulative effect, keep your motivation high and eventually achieve the desired goals.
  5. Pay attention to your life-Feel good slowing down, taking care of and being in charge of how you are working and living.

If you are ready for change, one of the most effective ways is to work with a professional coach, a trusted thinking partner who is committed to supporting and challenging you to develop your best self within a confidential environment. Scheduled time with a coach in which you create an individual development plan uniquely tailored to you and then follow through with it-  is a statement to yourself about what you value and your commitment to living a life which honors that.

Jo-Aynne von Born, Executive Coach, Work/Life Strategist, READYSETMORE

Email Jo-Aynne to schedule a free “Success With Less Stress” strategy call to clarify the professional and personal success you want, uncover what’s getting in the way and decide your next step.

Never Let Stress Get in the Way of Your Success.

Stress has been a part of everyday life since the dawn of humankind. Successful people know how to use stress to their advantage instead of letting stress use them. They cultivate a sense of balance by taking a big-picture view of stress. They learn to focus and take action on the internal changes needed to create more resilience to the inevitable uncertainties of life.


Let’s take a closer look at what stress is. Stress is a natural reaction in the brain to a perceived threat. Our heartbeat goes up. Stress hormones are released in the body for a fight, flight or freeze reaction in preparation to defend ourselves. Once the threat is neutralized, our body, mind and emotions return to a state of homeostasis or balance.

This is good. This is how we have survived as a human race. Psychologists say our stress response is triggered by our “negativity bias,” a patterned response wired into our brains that constantly scans the environment for threat in order to keep us “safe.” In modern times, this stress response can alert us to get out of the way of a car with a texting driver or warn us that our lifestyle is out of tune with our optimal health. It can give us our “performance edge” in a meeting or presentation or literally keep us one step ahead of the competition while running a race.

However, when stress becomes chronic or ongoing, it becomes unhealthy for us physically. Our bodies cannot sustain the deluge of stress hormones that keep us in a hyper state of alert. It also impairs our mental and emotional health as we begin to form sustained negative patterns of thought and consequent emotions that become embedded in the neural pathways of our brain. This process is called neuroplasticity, our brain’s amazing ability to adapt and change according to repeated experiences. Neuroplasticity can also be a double-edged sword depending on whether our repeated experiences are positive or negative.

Would you like to use stress to your advantage instead of having it use you? Here are some suggestions to get you on the road to mastering stress:

  1. Create opportunities to become aware of what causes YOU stress. Different things trigger stress for different people. Mindfulness or the habit of pausing and observing what is going on within you (thoughts, feelings, body sensations) when you begin to feel tense or resistant is a great way to pinpoint your triggers.
  2. Note the unique ways that stress is helpful and the ways it is an obstacle for you. If a deadline prompts you into planning and taking action on micro steps with micro deadlines to accomplish the overarching deadline on time, then this is “good stress” for you. If, however, deadlines make you freeze with inaction, where you ruminate about the missed deadlines in the past and how awful it was for your career, then this is “bad stress” for you. This chronic pattern of dealing with deadlines holds you back from achieving what you want.
  3. Take action on the stress that is an obstacle on the path towards your success. Often, just this awareness can be a big step forward in change. If deadlines are an obstacle for you, explore ways to make them more manageable. Then actually DO the steps required to make them less overwhelming no matter how uncomfortable at first. Recognize that YOU must set the new pattern in your brain. No one or nothing else can. With neuroplasticity, you can rest assured that it’s the actual doing, not thinking or talking about, that creates the experiences needed to rewire your brain to have a positive response to deadlines.

The bottom line is this, success in your work and your life depends on being aware and intentional with how you respond to the external environment of events and people. It also depends on being aware and intentional with how you respond to your internal environment of thoughts and emotions caused by the patterns that have been wired into your brain through repeated experiences of the past.

Don’t let stress get in the way of your success. Become aware of how you create stress and change what needs to be changed so that you can engage with the world each day with the most energy and enthusiasm possible. If you need help along the way, you can always give me a call.

Jo-Aynne von Born, Executive Coach, Work/Life Strategist

Email Jo-Aynne to schedule a free “Success With Less Stress” strategy call to clarify the professional and personal success you want, uncover what’s getting in the way and decide your next step.



Unlucky? 5 Qualities That Will Change Your Luck.

Good luck is defined as success brought about by chance rather than through one’s own actions. According to a recent Scientific American article, research suggests that our success may be influenced more by luck and opportunity than we believed in the past. Their findings suggest that where you were born, the name you were given and even the month of your birth could contribute to your ability to succeed.

Upset baby with two hands hold head

Think of the success of Bill Gates. It just so happens or as luck would have it, that his mother, Mary Gates served on the board of United Way alongside John Opel, CEO of IBM.  It is rumored that she spoke with the CEO about Microsoft, the fledgling software company that her son co-founded. Not too long after, when IBM as looking for an operating system to run its first personal computer, IBM met with Microsoft and the historic deal was struck that would put Microsoft on the map.

So if it’s true, that luck and opportunity play a big part in success, what are we to do, those who are not in the right place at the right time? How do we compete with those who seem to be born “lucky?” What can we do to tip the scale of success in our favor?

Think about this, for every other Bill Gates who has a mother perfectly positioned to make an introduction but doesn’t apply talent and effort, their natural born “luck” is rendered useless because they aren’t prepared with anything worthwhile to deliver. This leaves a huge opening for the rest of us to step up and take their place. How can we be ready? How can we create our own good fortune?

Here are 5 qualities you can cultivate right now to change your “luck.” The best part of all is that you will also bring down your stress levels by being proactive and increasing your mental and emotional resilience.

  1. Be attentive: Learn to pay attention on more than one level. Be more of an observer as well as a doer. Researchers distinguish between two types of attention, open and narrow. This will enable you to see opportunities that others miss, increasing your chances for success.  Stepping back and looking at the bigger picture (open attention) as well as taking the time to focus on specifics that others gloss over (narrow attention) are worthwhile. Learn to practice both. You might discover someone in your network that could get you that valuable introduction. You might also discover a way to fine-tune an area of your work that creates a game-changing turn of events. Mindfulness exercises are an excellent way to hone your observation skills, both open and narrow attention.
  2. Be persistent: When you believe that you have some control over your success, you will continue trying even when circumstances don’t look so good. Many people who experience stress when in difficult situations, simply give up too soon to make a difference.
  3. Be positive: Each time you fail or receive less than what you had expected from your efforts, find the good in it. Even if the only good is that you have learned what NOT to do next time. Attitude matters. Perception makes all the difference. A difficult situation can be interpreted as the kick in the pants you needed to get moving in the right direction.
  4. Be different: Apple’s famous “Think different” campaign slogan in the late 1990’s celebrated those who saw things differently as the hallmark of genius. Successful people are the ones who are unpredictable, who break the status quo, who find the road less traveled. Their “luck” and opportunity is increased by doing what no one else is.
  5. Be grateful: In a research study on gratitude in which participants were asked to note things that made them feel grateful over a 10-week period, the changes were dramatic. Physically they felt better, had improved sleep quality, were happier, more outgoing, compassionate and alert. When you are swimming upstream, against the tide of all the lucky ones you envision have it easier based on their fortunate circumstances, a good dose of gratitude can keep your energy and enthusiasm levels high.

Attentive. Persistent. Positive. Different. Grateful. How can you start cultivating more of these qualities right now? How would your “luck” change if you did?

Wishing you the best of “luck”!

Jo-Aynne von Born-Executive Coach, Work/Life Strategist, Workshop Facilitator

I will be starting a weekly group coaching call in April on Creating More Success with Less Stress. Limited to 6 participants. Email me at for details.


How to turn busy into brilliant.

Busy. Who isn’t? But is your busy getting the job done well? Or are you just checking off items on a to-do list? Done, but maybe not so well. Or at best, average.

Busy is a state of mind that can mean “I’m so overwhelmed so I’ll tackle as much as I can without much purpose or thoughtfulness.” The problem with this is that the to-do list never ends. You can easily end up creating a cycle of mediocrity.  It takes courage to step back from old habits of busyness and from a work culture that encourages you to go, go, go!


If you don’t get a handle on your busyness, busy can turn into burnout. So here are 5 suggestions to turn busy into brilliant. By brilliant, I mean not only productive but satisfying as well.

  1. You first.

As soon as you get up each day, do something that connects you with what is most important in your life. If you’re not sure what that is, ask yourself, why am I working in the first place? To provide the best I can for my family? Then experience that caring every morning by spending time with loved ones, calling them on the phone or even looking at pictures of them. Is it to have more freedom to travel? Then create that freedom each morning by reading about inspiring destinations or planning interesting getaways for your weekends. Is it well-being? Then every morning, do some stretching, meditation or motivational reading. The key here is not to wait until someday in the future, when you have everything in order, to connect with and create what you want. Instead, create it a little bit every morning, before you begin your day, even if it is only for a few minutes. This unleashes a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and energy that you can harness for your day.

  1. Schedule the toughest activity at the beginning of the day.

This is the best way to avoid procrastination. Commit to tackling the hardest activity first every day. Notice if you have a habit of working on low-priority items first as a type of “warm up.” Is this the best use of your morning freshness, especially if you unleashed the energy and enthusiasm in #1? Create a habit of hard things first and then wind your day down with the lower priority tasks. This includes scheduling difficult meetings or conversations as early in the day as possible.

  1. One-hour time blocks for highest productivity.

There have been studies that suggest that the quality of our focus declines after one hour. In my early career as an actress, I learned from one of my acting instructors that the union requirements for a break every hour while rehearsing were based on similar research. Try breaking down longer tasks into smaller steps that can be accomplished in under one hour. Meetings can be shortened or broken up with a brief break each hour. Committing to one-hour time blocks of focused work with a 10-minute break in between will refresh your focus and give you a higher quality of work.

  1. Have strategies for distraction

Boundaries are the best way to defeat distraction. Boundaries for others and yourself. Set times during the day for when you answer calls and emails and let your colleagues know beforehand. (You can always be flexible for emergencies). If you work in an open office environment, have something on your desk that alerts others when you are doing deep focused work and are not to be disturbed. Whatever boundaries you set up for yourself, be mindful to respect the boundaries of others too.

If you follow the one-hour time block suggestion, you will have 5-10 minutes each hour to “enjoy” the distraction of your choice, whether it be social media, calling/texting a friend, short meditation or looking out the window or at relaxing photos to let your mind unwind. Distraction can be a good thing when it is actively chosen by you and not a reflex based on external events.

  1.  Be grateful and accept

I know this is going to sound trite…but it really works. Every day, write down 3 things you are grateful and appreciative for. (I have a small moleskin notebook on my desk for this.) They can be significant or insignificant items. The key here is to create a mindset that is focused on what IS working and how others ARE contributing to your success rather than what isn’t working and who’s sabotaging you. This impacts your perspective and creates a more positive outlook.

Additionally, write down 3 things that you need to accept for today. This is not being defeatist, it is being realistic, for this moment. This brings the hidden frustrations of the day out into the open and allows us to be more proactive. Many things are not in our control, yet we try so hard to force. By being truthful, we can release tension and spend that energy on things that we do have control over, strengthening our internal locus of control.

Most people would agree that our lives are determined by the choices we make, every moment and every day. Today, why not choose one of these suggestions and commit to it for one week. Let me know what happens. See if you can transform your busy into just a little bit more brilliant.

Jo-Aynne von Born, Executive Coach, Work/Life Strategist, Workshop Facilitator


Finding Your Extraordinary.

Living an extraordinary life seems like something only rockstars in business, sports or entertainment get to do. But is that really true?

Doesn’t extraordinary depend on how you define it and the context of how you’re living?

For someone who is super successful in their career but lacks a depth of real meaning at the end of the day – extraordinary may mean finding ways to have more impact. For someone tired of barely getting by financially – extraordinary may mean a better paying job. For those trapped in a city landscape – extraordinary may mean a sabbatical in the mountains.

Extraordinary is a very personal matter. It doesn’t involve looking around at the world of shiny objects and saying, “I’ll take one of those, please.” It involves looking clearly and honestly at your own life right now to define what’s working and to be curious about what’s not. To ask yourself, “What would breathe life back into what has become lackluster?”


Finding your extraordinary takes some leadership on your part. Self-leadership is self-management. There are many aspects of your life and if left unchecked, you may find them working at odds with each other, creating disharmony and fragmentation. Not a recipe for experiencing amazing.

If you’d like to find your extraordinary and then take action to create it, schedule some “think” time on your calendar to answer these questions for yourself. If you get stuck, not to worry. Just asking the question and letting it sit unanswered for a while can bring you some surprising results.

  1. Define what matters. What is important to you? Not everything can be a top priority, but if you had to nail it down to your top three, what would they be? This can be a cause, a community or values and beliefs that you cherish.
  2. Imagine possibilities. This is the time to get uncensored. Forget what seems reasonable. Take what matters to you and envision yourself actualizing that in some way. There is no wrong or right here. There’s only imagination. You are the writer of an incredible story called, “My Most Extraordinary Life.”
  3. Search for opportunities to take risks. All change is a dive into the unknown. To move into the extraordinary means doing some things differently. How much risk can you tolerate? Not everyone is comfortable with giant leaps forward. Sometimes small steps work best. Either way, find those doors to knock on that can jumpstart your journey to extraordinary.
  4. Check relationships. Nothing happens in a vacuum. We all need support in one way or another that comes through other people. Make sure you involve others. Some may be thrilled to hear about what you want for your life and will offer ways to help. Some may feel threatened and try to hold you back. If the latter happens, it’s a perfect chance to build trust and foster collaboration, two skills that will serve you well on the road to extraordinary.

To cross the finish line of extraordinary, you’ll need to work through these steps a number of times. Especially when faced with challenges. That’s when you’ll go back to basics, reaffirming what’s important, imagining what could be, looking for ways to go outside your comfort zone and realizing that people are integral to realizing your vision of extraordinary.

I believe extraordinary is for everyone. Whether that means changing the world, landing an awesome job or learning how to rock climb, it’s about adding something “extra” into your ordinary.

Jo-Aynne von Born, Executive Coach


About Jo-Aynne, Coaching, Contact

What You Can Learn In A Hurricane.

Any crises we face can be an opportunity to lean on our strengths and shore up our weaknesses.

In South Florida where I live, this past week has been wearisome, to say the least. The threat of devastation looming in the media for days before the storm, the evacuations, the empty grocery store shelves, the long wait for the actual arrival of the storm in dark shuttered homes. Then the aftermath, for the Keys and west coast of Florida, true devastation of lost homes and businesses. For elderly folks in a nursing home, lost lives after being trapped without power for days with 90 degrees plus heat. 170524205250-hurricane-patricia-full-169

The week preceding the hurricane I spoke to an anxious client whom I had been working with to enhance leadership skills with his employees. At this time however, he was dealing with stress of keeping his family together. His wife and children wanted to leave the state (they were not in an evacuation zone). He wanted to stay and watch over his business offering to fly them out while he stayed behind. They wanted him to come along so they could stick together as a family. Arguments ensued. Harsh words were flung. Relationships broke down. All adding to the already mounting stress of the storm.

Continue reading What You Can Learn In A Hurricane.

Why Values Matter.

Values are our roadmap. They define what we believe is important for our work and our lives. They determine our priorities from an endless to-do list. Values are individual, inner guidelines for our decisions and actions.

We all have values, whether we acknowledge them or not. Life is much smoother when we make an effort to recognize our values, refine them if needed and make choices which respect them.

If we are not clear on our values, our decisions are difficult and confusing based on changing external factors rather than on more stable internal principles.

Continue reading Why Values Matter.

More performance. Less pressure.

Have you ever found yourself stretched in multiple directions with the best of intentions to be high performing, to make a meaningful difference and to feel good in the process? In reality however, you find that your work suffers, you fail to make the impact and your energy level hovers close to zero.

Welcome to the club! Who hasn’t felt this way at one time or another? Many of us strive to have that perfect balance of productivity, fulfillment and well-being. We search for that optimum point where our work yields a valuable and satisfactory output, our life has meaning and we are healthy physically, mentally and emotionally. Continue reading More performance. Less pressure.

What’s Your Sweet Spot?

Your optimum potential is that sweet spot which lies at the intersection of effectiveness, fulfillment and well-being where work and life are integrated in a state of ease and balance. It’s a distinction based on our individual capacity, values, goals and willingness.

It doesn’t mean that situations are never challenging. Quite the opposite, it’s the understanding that challenges inspire us to hone our focus, develop more resources and cultivate our resilience.


Most of us never take the time to reflect on how we can best add value to the world. Instead we think about what kind of job we want. We many never ask ourselves what gives our lives meaning. Instead we think about efficiency. We may not equate the state of our health with our state of our mind. Instead we look for quick fixes to physical symptoms.

Continue reading What’s Your Sweet Spot?