Why your way of leading isn’t working

Why your way of leading isn’t working
“The key to leadership is influence not authority.”
~Kenneth Blanchard

There is a leadership fact that I always share with clients. The higher up the food chain you go in an organization, the more your job is not about doing specific tasks. In fact, at times it’s not about “doing” anything. It’s about influencing. Influence is the key to getting things done, getting your ideas across, and honestly, getting ahead.

You can exert authority and maybe you’ll get people to comply. But chances are their hearts won’t be in their compliance and their engagement and commitment will be less than ideal. I don’t know about you, but when I do something because I have to, or because I’m afraid of the stick (as in the carrot and the stick), I resent the process, the person, and often the outcome. And my effort stinks!

Research shows that the carrot doesn’t work that well either. That offering me incentives to act in a certain way again doesn’t guarantee my engagement or commitment. Or my best effort. So what we’re left with is influence.

Influencing others can seem difficult and it does take effort. And time. We have to care what other people think and how they feel. We have to ask them what’s important to them and engage them. We have to put ourselves in their shoes, in their situation, to see the world (and our idea) from their perspective. And we have to be willing to address what’s important to them and take their feelings into account. We have to do our research. We have to, at times, take the long route to reaching our goal, so that we set aside time to make sure they’re with us. And behind us. And supporting us.

This effort and time yields influence – and leadership.

Where are you overusing authority? Where do you need to influence? Take the time to learn about the people you need to influence.

How do you successfully yield influence?
Please leave a comment to share.

If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

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Join The Conversation

What People Are Saying

Brooke Harper   |   30 March 2017

I could not agree more. In leading, either by influence or by authority are both important. There are managers who prefer to exert their authority in making sure that things are done the way they want it. But, most leaders are partial to influencing, as it is the shortest way in getting to the heart of their people. When you gain the respect of your people, they tend to perform better and will remain loyal. Things are done easily when your people are working with a happy heart.

Robyn McLeod   |   03 April 2017

Thank you for your comment, Brooke. Influencing certainly has more positive impact than exerting authority. Here’s to more happy hearts!

Cheryl Johnson   |   06 April 2017

I totally agree.