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Power Versus Influence in Leadership

Power vs Influence in Leadership – TCR Community Call

Leadership is Doing

Whether you are in a leadership role or simply aspire to be, it is important to understand what leadership is about, particularly as it relates to self-leadership.  The first thing to understand is that there really is no leadership.  It simply does not exist.  It is the nominalisation of the verb to lead that has been transformed into a pseudo noun called leadership.  Instead of talking about leadership, we need to focus on the verb, to lead. Leadership is not about a particular behaviour rather it is about your way of being in terms of leading others to a place that is different.

Leading is first and foremost about holding a vision that may not match reality, and being able to communicate that vision. Within this dynamic lies the conflict between power versus influence. Your own power challenges your influence in leading people in a particular direction that goes against the status quo. If you are not able to hold a vision that challenges the current reality, you are not leading.



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Leadership is Not Managing

Leadership is about creating and communicating the possibility of something in the future. Managing is the opposite of leadership and is more concerned with the present and the past. Leading looks at the present through a lens of possibility and how it could be different. When people spend their attention and intentionality focused on the present moment, they are managing, not leading.

The Polarity of Power and Influence

Power and influence are polarities. They are polarities of attention, with authority being the apex point between them.  You are either standing in your own authority, or you are trying to influence the thoughts and feelings of others about your authority. Although influence is about persuasion, we really cannot persuade anyone other than ourselves.

The Paradox of Influence

There are only four areas that we can have any power over. The way we think and feel are private powers and what we say and do are our public powers. These are the only things for which we are responsible.  Everything else is influence.

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Power is holding and maintaining ownership and authority over your thoughts and actions. When you take responsibility for what you can control, no one else can influence you unless you allow it. Even when you allow it, you are still in control because you are allowing yourself to be influenced.

Influence is a paradox because no one can actually influence another.  Everyone is free to make their own decisions based on what they think and feel.  This is an internal process that no one else can control.  Understanding this concept can be very freeing because once you realise that you truly only have control over those four powers, you can take ownership of them and let go of everything else that is beyond your control.

Influence is not something you can control. Influence is persuasion, and once you realise that you cannot persuade others, it will lead you in how you can influence them. The best way to influence others is to let them influence themselves.  The more you can step back, the more you can facilitate this process through matching, mirroring, and pacing. You gain influence paradoxically by facilitating others to persuade themselves.

Leadership in the Workplace

When you take control of your emotions and your actions, it gives you an advantage in your interaction of authority.  Only you have authority over yourself, and no one can make you think or feel anything. Paradoxically you can persuade others by questioning their thoughts and actions and holding them accountable. This gives you an immense amount of authoritative influence in the relationship.  It is not a matter of being right or wrong; it is a matter of stepping into your authority.  


The Role of Questioning

To optimise your communications, you need to understand that everyone’s first person perspective is different and individually controlled. When you stop trying to control other people’s first-person perspective, you simultaneously let go of anyone having control of yours. Now you are able to ask questions that allow you to understand other perspectives.  Asking questions helps you to see the limitations of your own perspective which brings about even more perspectives.  This expands your consciousness which allows you to become highly influential in your relationships.

Management is about the external game, but leading is about the inner game in an influential yet open and transparent way that moves from probability to possibility. Leadership is about possibility and leading others to the possibility of themselves.

In order to achieve this, you must let go of your perspective while simultaneously seeing that it still may be a valid perspective.  When you are no longer attached to it, you can move into a fluid place where you can investigate multiple perspectives in the moment.

Personal Communications

These principals of leading not only apply in the workplace but our personal lives as well.  By understanding perspectives, you can prevent yourself from getting caught up in your own needs to be seen in a certain light. This allows you to give your whole self to the conversation so you can truly understand each other.

Developing Your Skills

The best and most direct way to develop your leadership skills is with one to one coaching. Leadership is about accepting that others have unique first-person perspectives while being able to relate to them directly and openly.

Unleashing Leadership is designed for managers and executives transitioning to and exceeding expectations in, middle and upper management and executive roles. One and three-day corporate courses are currently available.

In 2018, we will be offering five-day leadership workshops to help people become enlightened leaders with the ability to lead people to their possibilities. This program is designed for leaders who want to improve their leadership skills and lead more effectively.


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