Today is the final part in my blog series on nine ingredients that cannot be separated from quality leadership. Like eggs and bacon—they just go together. Any leader without them is incomplete or unhealthy. Since my blog posts are about leading the next generation, I’m hopeful these short articles will help you deepen your effectiveness as a leader, parent, coach or teacher.
In this final blog post, I want to talk about the idea of influence. J. Oswald Sanders said it first: leadership is influence. Nothing more. Nothing less. It isn’t about titles or positions. It’s about who influences the most people in the organization or on a team.
One of the greatest leaders of the 20th century was Mahatma Gandhi. He changed the course of history not only for India, but for other parts of the world including America. (He greatly impacted the way Dr. Martin Luther King led the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s). He epitomized what good leaders do: he created a sense of purpose, he challenged existing ways of thinking and he energized people to act on their goals. Gandhi is the only leader I know of in recent times who accomplished such goals despite the fact that he held no public office or had no official title. He’s not been given any formal award, either in his lifetime or posthumously. What he did have was influence. Plenty of it. Without the use of force, he mobilized people in India toward a revolution.
What did he do to gain it?
- He moved with great resolve.
- He listened empathetically to others.
- He communicated a clear plan of action.
- He rallied the masses to act on it with him.
- He confronted current problems without violence.
Let me ask you some basic questions regarding your leadership:
- Is your leadership (in the home or on the job) really about your position?
- If you had no title, and no money to pay anyone—would others still follow you?
- How do you move people to act when you need something done?
- Are you the most influential person in your group, team or class?
Next week, we’ll move on to a new topic…but consider your leadership in light of these nine elements we’ve discussed over the last nine days.