Without influence, it’s next to impossible to lead others. If you can get people to follow you not due to your title alone but because you have earned it; you’ve achieved the title of an influential leader.
As mentioned in a previous post, leadership isn’t based on position or fancy titles; leadership is influence. A title might buy you a little time but if you don’t earn their respect and trust, they won’t follow.
Influence is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone. The problem with only using a position or title to justify leadership is its leverage is primarily over the behavior, and not necessarily the character and development of others.
For example, in a boss – employee relationship, the subordinate will be cooperative when their income/livelihood is at stake. This is considered positional leadership. Positional leadership use position to prove leadership.
Relational Leadership vs Positional Leadership
Positional leadership runs into hard times working in a voluntary organization. I have seen this first hand serving or volunteering in churches or community organizations. Whenever there was a leader throwing their title around to affect behavior, they faced resistance almost everytime.
It’s hard to command something that you haven’t earned. I love how Maurilio Amorim puts it, “Positional leadership is given, while influential is earned.”
Followers in voluntary organizations are there because they “want” to not because the “have” to. If a leader doesn’t have leverage – or influence – their title is ineffective. The effective leaders in this type of environment master relational (influential) leadership.
Influential leadership isn’t pushing or pulling instead it’s one of relational connection and support that develops a motivated and inspired team driven by a trusted leader. People follow who they trust, not necessarily who they must.
As you grow as a leader, it’s important that you understand the difference between positional and relational leadership. Look at this way, with positional leadership income is the currency. Relational leadership, influence is the currency.
Let’s take a look at 3 ways you can earn your influential currency to effect the character, development, and behavior of those you lead.
3 Ways To Earn Influence As A Leader
1. Add Value
If you don’t value people you shouldn’t be leading them. One true sign that you value those you lead is your willingness and ability to add value to them. However, we only value others to the degree we value ourselves.
Have you noticed that we don’t see people as they are but as we are? Your willingness to develop, and invest in yourself by reading posts like this so you can add value to others, is a step in the right direction.
Leadership expert, John Maxwell has said, “when you value people, you have a deeper desire to connect with them than correct them.” He also said that the first step of leadership is adding value to people.
As a leader, you add value by serving others. Are you more focus on others serving you are you serving them? The more you add value to them, the more they follow you.
Action: Ask yourself each day, “How can I add value to others today?”
2. Be Consistent
If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you say you’re going to be somewhere, be there. Consistency is a must as you build influence and grow as an influential leader.
It’s important to realize that consistency isn’t a one and done thing; it’s a pattern. Consistency establishes your reputation as a leader. It’s hard to demand accountability from others if they can’t expect the same from you.
People buy into the leader when they can count on that leader. Can those you lead count on you? Consistency is an underrated word that plays a supersized role in your ability to be an influential leader.
You have to be consistent as a leader. Be reliable. The more consistent you are with those you lead, the more willing they will be in following you.
Action: Identify an area where you can be more consistent as a leader and work on it for the next 3 months.
The key to connecting with those you lead is to listen to them. People truly don’t care about what you know until they know that you care. You have to connect with them emotionally before you can move them physically.
Have you ever noticed how some people have their guards up when you try to (in your mind) give advice and help them? It’s because you haven’t connected with them yet. They are still trying to figure out your motives, your intentions before they let you in.
People won’t go along with you until they can get along with you, said so brilliantly by John Maxwell. Therefore, seek common ground with those you lead before you seek higher ground.
Relationships are a foundation of successful leadership. It’s the bedrock to relational leadership. As the leader, it’s your responsibility to take the initiative in connecting with those you lead.
Every time you connect with those you lead is an opportunity to increase your influence with them. Get to know them intimately if you desire to move them outwardly.
Action: Write down three individuals you need to connect with more and be intentional to do so over the next few months.
Remember, influence is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone. Your title might impact their behavior but it’s your relationship that will influence all three. True leadership can’t be given, it must be earned.
You earn it by adding value to those you lead, being consistent in how you lead, and connecting intentionally with those you lead. You can do it!
What is one area you can be more consistent as a leader? Please comment below.