When in leadership, whether a formal position or informal, you have the opportunity to positively influence your team. But some methods used to influence and motivate are more effective than others.
What Is influence?
Influence is action that results in causing change in someone without using force or coercion. An influential leader is someone who consistently has a positive impact on the people and the organization he or she serves.
Who Has Influence?
We all can be leaders that have a positive influence, regardless of our position. Why? Because positive influence does not require a position, only a relationship. All of us have intrinsic worth and the ability to influence or lead, some on a large scale and others on a small scale. Some are charismatic communicators, others are strategic thinkers. Some are quiet influencers, others are big and bold.
Types of Power Used to Influence
Power is the capacity to impact the behaviors or thoughts of others and is essential to carry out the legitimate responsibilities found within formal leadership roles. There are three main types of power:
- Positional Power: The power a person possesses as a part of the formal position they hold.
- Expert Power: The power a person possesses due to special knowledge or experience.
- Relational Power: The power a person possesses because of the personal credibility and trust that has been earned over time.
The Most Effective Way to Influence Others
While it is appropriate and, at times, essential that leaders utilize their positional power and expert power, it is healthier for the leaders, followers, and the overall organization when leaders develop and first depend upon their relational power (often referred to as “relational capital”). While not everyone has an official leadership position or unique expertise, everyone can acquire relational power.
The Least Effective Way to Influence Others
Due to our desire for control, when a person does not possess positional, expert, or relational power or feels his or her power is not working, he often resorts to coercion – the use of threat or intimidation to get a person or group to do what he wants. While there are unique circumstances where coercion is warranted, it should be the exception rather than the norm. This is because coercion can have long-term and unintended consequences and result in others going silent or withdrawing from the relationship or organization.
Jay Desko is the Executive Director of The Center and serves on the Senior Leadership Team at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Jay brings experience in the areas of ministry assessment, leadership coaching, decision-making, and strategic questioning. Jay’s degrees include a B.S. in Bible, a M.Ed in Instructional Systems Design and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Leadership.