How to Lead Like Ellen DeGeneres Part Deux

Ellen DeGeneres is a person of influence because she’s not intimidating. The look on her face says, “I want you to like me.” It’s not a needy look. But, it borders on insecurity.

She doesn’t threaten. She’s safe, vulnerable.

Ellen DeGeneres vulnerability

Intimidation requires authority and power.

Diminishing influence:

Chest thumping, posturing, and muscle flexing may elevate power and authority, but they don’t enhance ethical influence. They diminish it.

Permission or threat:

Ethical influence is a function of permission.

Intimidation uses fear rather than permission. Influence, however, doesn’t require fear, power, or authority. It requires permission.

Influence chooses vulnerability.

Intimidation chooses threat.


Threat – the authority to hire, fire, punish, and promote – generates conformity through power. But, ethical influence requires permission and rejects intimidation.

The one giving permission is the one with power.

Intimidation depends on others feeling powerless. But, the power of influence increases as coercion goes down.

Influence requires consent.

Consent establishes vulnerability.

Intimidation destroys influence.

Vulnerability empowers influence.

Vulnerability or barrier:

Ellen engages in an exchange of vulnerability with audiences. She opens up. They open up. She’s not flexing muscle. She draws in her audience with humanity.

Leaders who flex muscle invite others to build self-protective barriers.

Self-protection ends influence.

Vulnerability – the opposite of self-protection – enhances influence.

7 ways to increasing influence the DeGeneres way:

  1. Avoid threatening behaviors.
  2. Enjoy the approval of others without being needy.
  3. Make it easy for others to be vulnerable by respecting vulnerability.
  4. Acknowledge the strength of others.
  5. Don’t pump yourself up.
  6. Choose humility – the place of service.
  7. Be vulnerable.

How can leaders navigate influence through vulnerability?