Effective Leadership And The 8 Levels Of Influence

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Level one is the lowest level of leadership influence. When people first come to your church or workplace they will follow you a certain distance because you are the leader (or the boss). Yet that level of influence is limited. Let me give you an example. One particular Sunday morning during the worship service everybody sang the same songs, prayed together and listened to the same sermon with a hearty amen. Afterward, when I asked them to help fund a project that fed orphaned children in Nicaragua, some gave and others left the building without even considering the appeal for help. What was the difference? People respond to their leaders based on varying levels of influence. It’s naïve to think that everybody will respond to you just because you have a title or position.

The second level of leadership influence is based on a reputation for getting results. At this level, people will follow you because it benefits them personally. Everybody loves a winner, and since you have a good track record of success as a leader this group will follow you as long as they are getting something out of it.

Do you remember the old E. F. Hutton television commercials? E.F. Hutton was a brokerage firm with a winning track record. One day an E.F. Hutton broker was dining with a client in a crowded restaurant. During the course of dinner, the broker was about to tell his guest what E.F. Hutton thought about a particular subject. When he did, the restaurant suddenly got real quiet with people leaning over to hear what E. F. Hutton had to say. Level two influence is directly related to your winning track record. People will follow you because you’re a winner.

In the third level of leadership influence, the people discover something about you that causes them to follow. In our leadership class, this discovery seemed to be the tipping point toward commitment for the majority of respondents. This was where the real influence began. When they saw my heart they gave me permission to lead them in a different capacity. People want to follow a leader that really believes in what he or she is doing. When people discover your heart they will follow you to another level. The way people discover the heart of their leader is through their leader’s passion and compassion.

Passion and compassion are deep core value traits that all great leaders possess. These values are their reason for doing what they are doing.

To discover a leader’s innermost motivation all you have to do is touch their passion. One day Jesus entered the temple courtyard on His way to pray. He was taken back by all the moneychangers and the merchandisers that filled the courts. He reacted to their presence by taking the time to prepare a whip, which he later used to beat the merchandisers as he turned over their tables and drove them out of the temple. He said, “My Father’s house shall be called a house of prayer but you have made it a den of thieves.” When His passion was touched He responded. Those who followed Him after that day did so at a different level because they saw His heart for God’s house. There were many other times Jesus revealed His heart to His disciples, like the time He was moved with compassion on the multitudes because they were sheep having no Shepherd. The third level of leadership influence is directly related to and activated when people see their leader's heart.

People always move toward a leader’s expectation of them. The fourth level of leadership is the empowerment level. This is where the follower really feels their leader believes in them. This is also the level where a working trust is built between the leader and the follower. At this level, the leader sees something in the follower that the follower has never seen themselves.

Faith in those working on your team unlocks identity and discovery of purpose. When a person discovers their own identity they are ready to move to the next level because people learn the most when they are ready to be taught.

Don’t forget that people are worth investing in. You invest in them by leading with vision, spending time with them, adding value to them by sowing resources into their lives, and empowering them with opportunities to perform. Look for that particular gift that’s in them and draw it out.


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