There’s an awful lot of bad information out there about what it takes to lead. Most of it revolves around the misunderstanding and the abuse of the use of power.
Whether you want to believe it or not, you have far less power than you think you do. And that’s ok, because as a leader what you need is influence, not power. So here are the five times influence always trumps power.
- Influence trumps power when you need people’s best. People may show up for money. They may even acquiesce or comply to your demands. But they’ll never give you their best without being inspired to do so by their leaders. And that takes influence, not power.
- Influence trumps power when guilt and shame are not options for you as a leader. With power you can guilt and shame people, you can threaten them, you can throw a tantrum, but you also create a toxic environment in which nothing of significance can grow.
- Influence trumps power when you have long-term goals. If you’re in this for the long haul; your church, organization, business is going to be around year after year after year, you’re going to have to learn how to build healthy environments where people grow and bring their best work. That’s done in an atmosphere where you inspire and where your influence is created by the inspiration you provide.
- Influence trumps power when you care about the people you lead. To lord it over someone else, to exercise punishment or give out threats, means that you don’t really care about the people. All you care about is yourself and your own private agenda. And when people pick up on that, they’ll bail out of your organization as soon as they possibly can. And even those who stay will stay because they don’t have any other options.
- Influence trumps power when you demand the best of yourself. I wear a little blue band every day that simply says on it, “Inspire Greatness.” It reminds me that whenever I lead, the responsibility is upon me to be a leader worth following. And the leaders who lead well always lead from within their community. And to do that you have to inspire people by your actions, by your character, by your behavior, and by your responses to up times as well as down.
If you are still living by the old paradigm that leadership is power, consider just for this moment that maybe instead of being in the 21st Century, we’re back again to the first century, where the greatest leader who ever lived, the greatest person who ever lived, Jesus Christ, who had all the power in the world and didn’t use it except in the service of others; and who ultimately has changed the world by using His influence rather than His power.