Many leaders are quietly giving away their influence. Are you?
You’ve heard it said that influence is the currency of leadership. And it’s true. The more influence you have the better able you are to lead people. A friend of mine always says, “Never give away influence unnecessarily.” In other words, think through everything you do, because once influence is diminished, it’s tough to get it back. But many leaders are, in fact, quietly losing influence. I say quietly because they aren’t losing it over some huge moral compromise or failure, they are losing it because they are not doing some of the simple work of great leadership. They are not asking the people they lead to actually speak into their leadership. Here are two things that will immediately grow your influence with those you are leading.
Ask, “What’s it like to be on the other side of me?”
I don’t think it could ever be overstated the importance of this question. You should ask a version of this question to someone you are leading every month. You should sit with your direct reports or your small group leaders and ask,
“Do you see any blind spots?
Where do you wish I would grow?
Is there anything you think I should know about myself?
Are you getting everything you need from me?
Am I frustrating you in any way?”
Questions like these will increase your influence exponentially with the people you lead. Too often, leaders are afraid to ask difficult questions because they don’t want to hear what other people might say. Or they are afraid that asking such questions will expose their weaknesses. Guess what? It will. And none of us like being regularly reminded of our weaknesses. So it’s understandable why many leaders avoid asking these questions, but it’s not very wise. By not asking, you are missing an opportunity to grow. People want to be lead by leaders who will allow them to speak into their lives and leadership. People want to be led by leaders who have the courage to expose themselves voluntarily to criticism. By not asking, you are quietly giving away influence.
The other side of this coin is once you asked, you have to follow through on what they tell you. It’s not enough just to ask, you have to act. Your reports or volunteers need to see you take growth and change seriously. If they tell you that you are terrible at responding to emails, start responding. If they say you never get things to them on time, put a visible plan in place to change. If they say you don’t seem present in meetings, don’t allow yourself to take your phone to the meeting. This is why a lot of leaders never ask, because once you do, you are accountable. But if you want to grow and if you want to grow your influence, you don’t have a choice.
The church needs more great leaders. Not less. The church needs more leaders impacting and leading more people. And this is a simple way for all of us to get there.