Hersey, Blanchard and Johnson in Management of Organizational Behavior note that: “leadership is the process of influencing the activities of an individual or a group in efforts toward achievement in a given situation.” It relates to the ability of leaders to influence followers and others to work toward agreed goals within a given situation.
Over the years, I have discovered that leadership influence has little to do with the leadership role or position that you hold and everything to do about how you treat people.
Quite often, and importantly, leadership influence will occur outside of the leadership position you hold.
For instance, in one Victorian country parish that I led, we enabled the church to engage effectively with the social needs of our growing community. We provided support and insight for our Shire President and Council to identify and address the growing social needs that were going to affect our community in the years to come. The Council was then able to institute actions and programs that would help it to deal with these needs as they arose.
Some years later, a Shire Councilor and I discussed with the Shire Secretary the lack of action that had occurred concerning a report produced for Council regarding social needs. He told us “Councilors do not have time to read reports, but if Andrew Peters proposes any program to Council, they would adopt it and do it”.
I asked him to repeat what he said.
He noted that any program that I proposed to Council they would do – not simply consider but do.
That is influence.
Around the same time, we also had a Clergy Deanery lunch at the local pub in our town. I noticed that all the clergy coming back from ordering their lunch and drinks had a peculiar look on their face.
One clergyperson came in and said that the publican would only charge him for lunch, and not his drinks. All the clergy had experienced the same thing.
At that moment the Shire President and Councilors came into the dining room and greeted me as they went to their table.
Towards the end of the meal, the publican’s wife came and offered us sweets on the house.
At that point, the Archdeacon said, “Andrew must own shares in the pub!”
Now none of this had been prearranged. How did it happen then?
It is a matter of influence.
It is a result of how you treat people. Even though I was the parish priest and I do not drink, we had a good relationship with the publican and his family.
Leadership is about influence.
It is not about positions, controlling people or manipulating them to do what you want.
It is about investing in people. The more you invest in people, the better you treat them, the more likely they are to take notice of what you do and think.
Leadership is about influencing people to take action based on the relationship you have with them, how you treat them and the time and resources you have invested in them.
Take a moment to reflect on how you treat people and who you are investing in today.