LA 047: How to Raise Your Level of Influence



“Leadership is influence”

according to John C. Maxwell (Maxwell, 2010), and you can raise your level of influence with others.

The Five Levels of Influence

The higher your level of influence with someone, the easier it is to lead them.

The 5 Levels express a way to understand and organise your leadership growth.

Each of the levels build on the previous one and you can only progress to the next level once you have mastered the previous level. As you go higher it is easier to lead because your influence grows as well, as your leadership becomes more service oriented. Maxwell says it takes longer than you think to get to the top level?and many never do. At the same time, you can go down very quickly. But if you have developed the right kinds of relationships with others, they will support you through your missteps and fumbles.

In this episode of the Leadership AdvantEdge, I'd like to begin by sharing about the five levels of Influence, and then suggest ways that you can raise your level of influence with the stakeholders who matter to you right now.

About the 5 Levels

The 5 Levels express a way to understand and organize your leadership growth.
The 5 Levels express a way to understand and organise your leadership growth.

As shown above, the first level is POSITION.

At this level, people follow you because they have to. Your influence comes from your position. While that's not bad?you probably got the position because of your leadership potential?you don't want to stay here. Leadership is about relationships and leaders will make it their business to develop them.

At this level, people follow you because they have to. Your influence comes from your position. While that's not bad?you probably got the position because of your leadership potential?you don't want to stay here. Leadership is about relationships and leaders will make it their business to develop them.

The second level is PERMISSION.

People follow you because they want to. Permission is about building relationships. It focuses on the value of each person and opens up communication. Connecting with others begins with connecting with and growing yourself. Understanding that the first person I must get along with is me, the first person to cause me problems is me, the first person that must change is me, and the first person that can make a difference is me.

People follow you because they want to. Permission is about building relationships. It focuses on the value of each person and opens up communication. Connecting with others begins with connecting with and growing yourself. Understanding that the first person I must get along with is me, the first person to cause me problems is me, the first person that must change is me, and the first person that can make a difference is me.

Level three ? PRODUCTION

This level recognises that relationships alone are not enough. A leader is tasked with getting things done. Production level leaders are followed because of what they have done for the organisation. They get things done. Their credibility is based on their example. The ability to get results alone doesn't make you a leader. Leaders are measured by what the entire group accomplishes and not by the individual efforts of the person in charge. Leaders develop their people into a team to get results. To get to the next level you must develop your people.

The fourth level is PEOPLE DEVELOPMENT.

Leaders become great because they empower others. They develop more leaders. “Production may win games, but People Development wins championships.” People development assures that growth can be sustained. Self-centered, insecure leaders neglect this stage in their development.

Maxwell estimates that less than 1 percent of all leaders ever reach Level 5 ? THE PINNACLE.

We are at different levels with the people in our lives, including our family members (though I hope that you at least have a relationship with them.)
We are at different levels with the people in our lives, including our family members (though I hope that you at least have a relationship with them.)

Leaders at this level understand that the highest goal of leadership is to develop more leaders, not to gain followers or do work. Level 5 leaders develop Level 4 leaders. Developing leaders that can, in turn, develop leaders is hard work and takes a great deal of skill, focus, and a lifetime commitment. But those leaders that do create Level 5 organisations. They create opportunities that other leaders don't. Level 5 leaders leverage their own leadership through others. People follow these leaders because of what they are and what they represent. “When you lead an organisation, you can't be focused on just fulfilling the vision or getting work done.”

As we develop our leadership, we need to make sure our level of leadership with someone is at the best and most appropriate level.

Leadership develops daily, not in a day
Leadership develops daily, not in a day

Tell-tale signs that your leadership is really at level 1:

  • When you need to have a better job title, qualification, school grades or even a better car.
  • You find yourself shouting to get things done .
  • When your language is full of imperatives: “must”, “should”. “have to”.

A Level 4 leader is someone who enables and empowers others.

“Production may win games, but People Development wins championships.”

Maybe it's your current boss or someone else. You need someone who is going to help lift you up from level 1 leadership. Someone who will equip you with the knowledge, skills and OPPORTUNITY to practice those skills of leadership. This programme is an example of level 4 leaders helping you.

Let's strip you of your job title. Your qualifications, your status and standing in the community. Now, how do you lead?

If you remove the bottom rung of a ladder, it becomes very difficult to climb.
If you remove the bottom rung of a ladder, it becomes very difficult to climb.

Now, where would you like to be with yourself? Most likely level 3 – “Production”, 4 – “People Development” or even level 5 – “Personhood”.

I'll guess that this is one level beyond your current level.

So how do I raise my level of influence?

From Level 1 – “Position” or “Power”

If you are at level 1 (reliant on your position to have power over someone to influence them) – struggling to attain level 2 (reliant on others permission to influence them) – I recommend that you seek professional help. I don't mean a psychiatrist – I mean a coach or mentor, and now would be a very good idea!

5 levels level 1
If you are at Level 1, then the cahnaces are that you have no-one at Level 4 in your life. Go find yourself a Level 4 Leader and ask them to mentor you.

If you are at level 1, chances are very high that there is no-one in your life currently at level 4 – i.e. no-one that you respect for how they have developed you as an individual.

Find yourself a coach or mentor. This is the person you want as a coach or mentor ideally.
Short of that, ask around – or get onto our website, we'll happily point you to someone we've worked with in the past who might be suitable.

From Level 2 – “Permission” or “Relationship”

Those of you at level 2, wanting to get to level 3 – “Production” or results?

You could start with your boss, or your more successful peers, friends or family members. Ask them to help you push yourself. It's amazing once you start to get the results you want – then you'll respect yourself for it and rely less and less on others influencing you.
Establish a SMART goal that truly stretches you in your influence.

From Level 3 – “Production” or “Results”

Level 3 to level 4 – this, is about teaching and sharing with others to help them develop.

You can start with learning something you have thought till now as being ‘impossible'. Right-handed players learning to play left-handed.
Best of all, choose your favourite hobby, or something at work in which you are really quite skilful and teach someone else.

From Level 4 – “People Development” or “Mentor”

Level 4 to level 5, I believe that this is when you find yourself and what you really really believe in. It's a higher calling, beyond self. It is, for me, ridding myself of the self-righteousness, the ego if you will and knowing that you have a purpose in this life. There are few leaders who truly attain this.

Think of someone who you know who is really charismatic, but have never met personally who, if they came over to you and said “come with me” that you would simply follow… that person more than likely has achieved “personhood”.
Ask them to mentor or coach you.

There are other aspects of influence in this life , business and family. It is not entirely self-focused. The way we behave, the way we play, the confidence that we exude, the way we allow our character to come out – all of these have an influence on those around us. Is your influence always good?

Raising your Influence

  1. Find someone at Level 4 in your life
  2. Choose to build relationships and add value to the organisation and other people.
  3. Choose #2 DAILY!

Think on these questions:

  • What is your current level of leadership with different people in your life?
  • How can you choose to raise your leadership and influence with them, today?

Be a positive influence on someone else now:

  • ask “what's better today?” and
  • Send this Podcast to a friend.

Check out this episode!

Professional Leadership Caddy

There is greatness within you. I work with people who want to work it out.

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With solid foundations from our research in Social Cognitive Neuroscience, our AdvantEdge programmes enable you to identify your real potential, successfully achieve your desired results and deliver high performance.

"What's better today?"

This is my mantra. Every day I ask myself and everyone I meet. And it sums up my approach to leadership coaching and mentoring.

My mission is to help you achieve positive change enabling you to realize personal success in business, career and life.

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