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Moving Mountains with a Powerful Network

March 12, 2014 by Charity Wallace

How do we define influence? What’s the secret?  On Monday, our Women’s Initiative Fellows began their coursework at SMU with a discussion on “Influence and Persuasion” led by Kimberly Davis, who opened the session by posing these two questions.  After some discussion between the Fellows, they came up with a solid list of characteristics that make someone influential: hard work, efficiency, courage, persistence, love, commitment and so on. 

One critical point Davis made is that there is a difference between influence and coercion.  Effective leaders, some in formal leadership roles and others who are informal leaders, use influence to reach their goals.   Influence is about the betterment of others – helping people outside of your self – but one must work on self, understand others perspectives, and taking actions is important in achieving influence.

When Davis asked the group “Does influence come from the mind or from the heart?” the response was mixed.  Many contended that to be influential you must use logic and reason to sway the opinions of others.  Others said influence can only be achieved through passion and emotion.

In the end, Davis revealed authentic influence requires a combination of the two. Ultimately, it comes from the heart, but your mind and heart must come into alignment because logic and reason often influence the decisions of the heart. To influence, logic and emotions must be aligned.  She encouraged the Fellows by saying, “It’s hard to capture people’s hearts, but when you do, they will move mountains for you.”       

On Tuesday, Neena Newberry led a discussion in the classroom about how to strengthen your presence and build a powerful network. When the Women’s Initiative Fellowship was being designed, a SMU professor’s research showed that a woman’s network is one of the best indicators of her success.  So, one of the  goals of the Fellowship is that the women build a strong and reliable network which will expand to create a global women’s network, enabling women to become powerful advocates for change and progress.

Newberry explained that as the Fellows think about their goals for the year and consider how they are perceived – their “desired brand” – they can better assess what a powerful network will look like for their success. Meaningful networks are about quality over quantity. In some instances, it’s about expanding the network, and in in others, it’s about building stronger relationships. Newberry told the Fellows that many of them already have connections that can be leveraged for an even greater professional circle.

And perhaps most exciting of all, the Fellows realized that their own powerful networks can start with each other.  The Tunisian women represent six important sectors of society: education, health, business, politics, law, and media. They each bring different skills and areas of expertise to the group, and by forming a network, their power only multiplies. It’s a start to moving mountains. 


Author

Charity Wallace
Charity Wallace

Charity N. Wallace serves as the Senior Advisor to the Women's Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute and is in an executive graduate program in pursuit of a Global Master of Arts degree in international relations from The Fletcher School at Tufts University. Most recently, Ms. Wallace served as the Vice President of the Global Women’s Initiatives and Senior Advisor to Mrs. Laura Bush. In this role, Ms. Wallace was responsible for setting the vision and managing the policy engagement for the women’s initiatives, including Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon global health initiative, empowering women in the Middle East and working with First Ladies from around the world. The Women's Initiative aims to improve access to education, health care, and economic opportunity for women and children in Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan.

From February 2009 through September 2010, Wallace served as the Chief of Staff to Mrs. Laura Bush.  Wallace oversaw Mrs. Bush’s initiatives - from her wide ranging policy agenda to her the publishing and promotion of Mrs. Bush’s bestselling book, Spoken from the Heart. Wallace served in the Bush Administration from January 2001 to January 2009.  During her tenure in the administration, she served as Deputy Chief of Protocol of the United States (2007-2009), Director of Advance for First Lady Laura Bush (2004-2007), and worked in public liaison positions in Presidential Advance, the U.S. Department of Education, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, and USA Freedom Corps. During her tenure in the Bush Administration and in her current role, Wallace has traveled to 70 countries.

Ms. Wallace serves on the Board of Advisors for the School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University, the Advisory Board of ARZU Studio Hope, the Advisory Board of 4word Women and the Advisory Board of All In Together, an bi-partisan organization that promotes women’s engagement in political and civic life.  Ms. Wallace is an ex-officio member on the Human Freedom Advisory Council for the Bush Institute.  Ms. Wallace wrote the foreword for the book Work, Love, Pray, which was released in 2011. A native of California, Ms. Wallace graduated magna cum laude from Pepperdine University with a Bachelor of Arts in political science, with a focus in international relations. 

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