I remember the days when I said something to my daughter and she just did it.
No hassle. No back-talk. No negotiating. No funky looks. She just did it. Granted, I am referring to the days when she was two.
Since then, I have lost influence with her.
Actually, if I WANT her to wear a certain outfit or style of clothing I am sure to NOT suggest that particular outfit.
Right or wrong – it just works easier that way. Walk with one another according to knowledge.
Influence in Leadership
We all gain and lose influence with people over our relationships. Some of this process is natural. Some of this process is based on the way we conduct ourselves and handle the relationship.
Regardless of the reason, something to keep in mind is that influence is key in leadership.
People don’t necessarily follow titles (all the parents in the house stand up and shout), people follow influence. Just because someone is in a place of leadership, it does not mean they are even the individual leading the organization, home, church or business.
And whether or not people continue to follow us is based on the way that we use our influence. And this is where attitude and relational skills come in.
How to Lose Your Influence
Let me use an example. One of the fastest ways to lose influence was demonstrated by King Rehoboam in 2 Chronicles 10. It’s a great quick read, but let me summarize.
Rehoboam is a new king. As soon as he comes into power, the people (who he wants to follow him) tell him about the hardships they have been enduring and let him know that the current processes are killing morale and some of the people.
Rehoboam does two really smart things here. He asks for time. Three days to consider the matter. Then he gets counsel. People who have been there before.
- To maintain positive influence with those following you, you shouldn’t answer big questions quickly and on the fly.
- Take time and get wise advise so you can make smart decisions.
- Making the right decision, the first time, builds your credibility (which leads to influence).
Back to Big R
So Big R goes to the counsel of elders that have been serving before he was in power and asked if the people were right and what he should do. Smart move Big R!
They tell him to lighten the load of the people. They are right. But the leader doesn’t like that. He wants to make his mark…
Up production. Leave a legacy. So he asks a bunch of his buddies who have never been in this place before what he should do.
The new guys, his friends, agree with him. Up the workload! Tell those suckers to get a move on or it will be BAD for them! Sounds good to the new leader. His pride is loving the thought of accomplishing more than ever before.
So he ignores the wise people who have been there before and goes with his pride.
He rolls out the new plan to the people and they get up and walk out. Out of 12 tribes that he starts with, only two stay.
Great plan to increase production Big R. Hope you can do more with a lot less.
His hard driving, rough answers drove the people away. He lost his influence over them and never got it back.
Re-examine Your Method
It only takes one big blow up and mouth off to erode the influence and credibility we so desperately need to lead.
How’s that for motivation to actually spend more time really looking at our long term goals and examining the routes we are taking to get there?
And blowing up in public or sending snotty emails… a great way to blow of steam for someone who wants to remain at the bottom of the ladder.
For those of us wanting to go up a rung, we can hopefully learn from Rehoboam and start factoring our influence into our leadership decisions.
I love learning from someone else – a lot less damage to my personal pride and influence.