Leadership wiring is always unique which is why we can learn from the leadership of others but we can never become them. There are two categories of leaders, however, that are helpful to articulate. Many leaders fall into one of these two categories and some leaders negotiate both depending on the circumstances.

The first is organizational leaders. These are leaders who are wired to lead others through organizational structures and team.  In my primary leadership role as the senior leader of ReachGlobal I serve as an organizational leader. In that role my responsibility is to build a senior team, define organizational clarity, empower other leaders and ensure that the structures of the organization serve our staff and mission. 

There is another group of leaders that I would classify as influence leaders. They are often not wired for organizational leadership but they have enormous influence and use that influence to impact the direction of the organization in healthy ways. This is a powerful leadership role because it is not based on organizational position but on the ability to influence others in healthy directions. These leaders are not dependent on position but on their ability to help others move in a certain direction through relationship and influence.

Never underestimate the power of influence leadership. Anyone at any level of an organization can directly impact their team, circle of colleagues and even the entire organization if they lead from healthy influence. Within ReachGlobal we have a number of leaders who have enormous influence throughout the organization but who are not in an organizational leadership role. They are often relatively quiet servant leaders who through their service to others and clarity of thinking end up shaping the thinking of the organization as a whole. If you are a church leader you have these influence leaders in your congregation and you know the power they have to influence either for good or for ill.

In choosing people for leadership roles, one of the questions we need to ask is whether they are wired for organizational leadership or influence leadership. Influence leaders are especially powerful where one needs to influence the entire organization, across departmental lines through relationship rather than through line authority. The very fact that they do not have line authority is often an advantage because in leading from influence rather than authority, people do not feel they must respond but are influenced to respond.

Obviously, the best organizational leaders lead more from influence than from position. But don't underestimate the power of influence leadership which does not depend on position but on a desire to influence others and the organization through intentional, healthy servant leadership.
  • Mar 30, 2011
  • Category: News
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