Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. John C Maxwell
You can influence anyone at any time in any situation. Your level of influence with that individual will determine how ‘easily’ you influence them (or not).
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Through my own research and having assessed some 45,000 leaders across the globe. One thing I can assure you of. The higher your level of influence in an organisation and in life with the people that you work with, play with, worship with, sell to, or buy from… the FEWER SKILLS of influencING you NEED to use.
Conversely. The lower your level of influence with someone, the more influencING skills you need to use.
This is critical for people in the middle to understand.
Myth #1: WHATEVER your position in relation to another person in the organisation… your LEVEL of Influence and your ability to use influencING skills (Motivating, persuading, cajoling, negotiating and so on) determines your total influence on that person.
Just because you are not the top person in the organisation does not mean that you cannot influence (i.e. lead) If anything, it’s a cop out to suggest that you cannot lead until you are at the top. It’s an excuse. But that is the POSITION MYTH that many leaders in the middle hold.
Leadership (how you influence another) is a choice you make, not a place you sit.
Myth #2“When I get to the top, then I’ll learn to lead”
“When opportunity comes, it’s too late to prepare.” John Wooden
Remind yourself about Law#3 in the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is “Leadership develops daily, not in a day.”
I’ve met more leaders who hold onto this myth than the others. Or at least it seems that way. In fact, 80% of my work as a leadership coach comes to me because of this… In particular, I have found that the stronghold of this myth lies in HR. “We’ll invest in their leadership development…. When they have the position of leader”
You’ve just gone and promoted someone into a senior leadership role who hasn’t yet bothered to learn how to lead! Now we’re playing catch up.
Develop your leadership deliberately daily and soon you will have the job title to go along with it. And guess what? You’ll be better prepared and ready to actually do the leadership they’re paying you to do.
I know several leaders in the middle like this. Are you one of them?
In quite a few cases I’ve met them because they’ve been given the position and now find that, well, no-one is following them. This is the person that says “It’s lonely at the top”. Well if it’s lonely at the top, you ain’t leading – you’re taking a walk alone.
Are you sure people will follow when you’re on top? Just by being given a leadership title enables you to do that does it?
To accomplish anything as a leader you need to remember the Law of Buy-in 14th from the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.
- People buy into the leader, then the vision.
- A position doesn’t make a leader, but a leader can make the position
- You may be able to grant someone a position, but you cannot grant them real leadership. Influence must be earned.
“When I get to the top, then I’ll be in control”
You know someone who thinks this. They’re the person who’s usually complaining about the current leadership, often cynical, perhaps scoffing. And they say something like this “If I were in charge, then I would get everyone to…”
OK, fantastic. For the rest of today, I hereby give you the title “President of the United States of America”. Now you have the title. What have you done about the enormous debt burden? When are you going to reduce taxes? When are you going to withdraw the troops? When are you going to sort out the banks? When are you going to… and the list goes on. Very swiftly you will realise that the leadership title means nothing.
What you find is that a leader has to give up to go up. The leader has to remember the Law of Sacrifice.
Well I’ve never seen it to be true.
In many organisations, as you move up the ladder, you may even find that the amount of responsibility you take on increase faster than the amount of authority you receive.
I remember when I took my first area management position to run firstly 3 pub hotels in central London, which swiftly increased to 6, then 12 and all without any further increase in my authority or any increase in my support team. I had the title, and I had the power. But the weight of the additional responsibilities meant that something had to give. No way would I get more supporting resources… more authority.
The solution. GIVE POWER AWAY!
Seriously. It’s called the Law of Empowerment.
It’s like playing golf. At some point you need to learn that the club is there to do a job. When you let the club do it’s job… great shots are almost effortless… and they go further… and with better direction. The tighter you grip the shaft the worse it is.
The same is true if you hold a dogs leash too tight.
Pull back on the horse’s reins and the horse will go faster? No, it will slow down.
Empower your people. They will take a load off you… if you give them your power.
Reality: Most People will never be the top leader in an organization.
If everyone who genuinely believes that they will make it to the top of their organization did so… who is going to do the work?
Only when leaders in the middle reach their potential, will leaders at the top reach their potential.
When we make ourselves better, we then make the leader better. And when the leader is better, they bring the people who made them better up higher. Maybe one day they move on and maybe then you get their position at the top. But don’t you want a team full of people who are at the top of their game. And that’s what we should all strive for. To be at the top of our game, not the top of our organization.
A Leader’s potential is determined by those around him or her.
The All or Nothing Myth
Individuals can become better leaders wherever they are in the organization. Improve your leadership and you can impact the organization. You can change people’s lives. You can be someone who adds value. You can learn to influence people at every level in the organization – even if you never get to the top. By helping others, you help yourself.