Moving Up the Ladder of Influence & Leadership

How do you get people to work for you when they are not obligated? Influence, relational influence. This is the second level of leadership. As discussed in last week’s blog post, Level one leadership is leading from position, using your title or position as motivator. Level one is often leadership by pressure or even coercion. Level one leadership demonstrates little or no true leadership skills. This week I want to look at level two leadership, relational, or as John Maxwell lists it, “Permission” leadership.

Whether they are obligated or not, to move from level one to level two leadership a person must be inter-relational, able to build relationships with their charges (paid or volunteer). These relationships must go beyond, “Hi, How are you doing today?” A person unable to build solid, lasting relationships with workers (volunteers) will find short-lived effective success as a leader. In other words this person will continue to operate from level one.

You can love people without leading them, but you cannot lead people without loving them.” A very powerful and great statement from John Maxwell. Lower level leaders often times do not understand the critical element of this factor. Perhaps like me you have heard a manager say, “I am not here to be their friend. I am here to be their boss. I am here to see they get the job done.” While there may be some truth in those statements. The truth would lie in the third sentence, not the first.

The very best way to get someone to accomplish a task is through positive influence. To provide absolute positive influence, you must first get to know the person, earning his/her respect. Respect is earned, not given arbitrarily. You do not have to go out and have drinks with everyone in your organization, or invite them over for dinner. However, personalizing the work relationship will gain far greater respect than barking orders and adding bureaucratic procedures.

When people know that you care about them as a person, not as a machine, they will respond accordingly. In the church, business world, and life in general, far too few people are willing to take the time to invest in building true, caring relationships. A wise investment for anyone is to learn basic people skills. Your influence level rises as people enjoy and want to be around you. As a leader, this is critical in progressing up the ladder of influence.

The major characteristic separating level two from level one is that people want to follow you, not out of obligation to your position, but out of respect and relationship. When you build relationships and gain their respect, people will give you permission to lead them. Begin today: What can you do to build and strengthen relationships with those who serve under your leadership?

George Yates is a Life Purpose Coach and Church Health Strategist assisting individuals, churches, and organizations in fulfilling their God-given purpose in life.