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Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Power of Influence

In a recent episode of the Big Bang Theory, Bob Newhart makes a guest appearance as an elderly scientist/TV personality.   His character hosted a children’s science show that Sheldon, Jim Parsons, and Leonard, Johnny Galecki, obsessively watched as young boys.  When Professor Proton, Bob Newhart, laments his legacy, Sheldon and Leonard give him credit for inspiring them to become ground-breaking physicists.   Sheldon tells Prof. Proton, “A generation of scientists are standing on your shoulders.”  I am sure I’m not the only one who sees the irony that the relationship being acted out by Prof. Proton, Sheldon and Leonard is one that took place in real life between Newhart, Parsons and Galecki.  Bob Newhart is a legend.  He has been the inspiration for many famous comedians and ensemble actors.  His TV shows have helped define the standard by which all sitcoms are judged.  The Big Bang Theory is now just as popular as Newhart’s shows for the same impeccable comedic timing and the humorous relationships of quirky characters.  Life imitating art imitating life.

How do we know what influence we may have overs, whether they be in the next generation or our own?  The answer is, “We don’t.”  But that is just the point.  Since we do not know, we must act as if we do.  When we are given an opportunity to influence others we must exercise that responsibility deliberately and with a purpose.  This is especially true in the area of our chosen profession.

A professional is one who is accepted as very skilled or expert at a given activity.  Usually those professionals who are recognized among their peers as having influence are not in leadership roles.  Their influence comes from how they perform at their job.  Airline Captains have a very influential role in their profession. Because of the unique interface of man and machine, the airline Captain must have effective skills handling the crew as well as the aircraft.  When they are in command, Captains set a tone on the flight deck that will establish the relationship they will have with their crew.    How the Captain handles the aircraft will establish his or her performance expectations.   The Captain who builds effective relationships as well as demonstrates strong airmanship skills is the one who has influence.

To have influence is one of the greatest honors that can be given a professional.

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