Are You Managing Your Influence?

I’m excited today to have a guest post from Cross Point’s Creative Arts Pastor (and my friend) Stephen Brewster! Be sure to visit his blog for other great thoughts on creativity and leadership.

It’s a little intimidating to blog for your boss…but it sure is a lot easier when you know she is on the other side of the planet and maybe won’t have internet. 🙂 Really, I am honored to get to contribute to the amazing content that Jenni produces daily here at JenniCatron.TV. So, let’s dive in!

Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “You can never really live anyone else’s life, not even your child’s. The influence you exert is through your own life, and what you’ve become yourself.”

By the very nature of being a leader, we often are forced to learn to handle influence. Great leaders learn how to handle influence the right way without allowing influence to go to their heads or change who they’ve always been. Great leaders understand that how we use our lives to impact our organizations and our surroundings will impact our influence and measure our leadership legacy. Andy Stanley says: “Leadership is Stewardship.” Influence, the byproduct of leadership, also requires stewardship. I believe there are five major traits of influence that we have to measure and steward if we’re going to use our influence to positively impact our leadership and organizations:

1. Influence comes with a cost. Leaders have to manage the cost of influence – and it’s not free. We will constantly be cashing in more and more of our “freedoms and liberties” with the more influence we gain. This isn’t a bad thing at all, but it is reality. A lot of young leaders do not realize the power that comes with influence and believe that they can continue to act, react, and live the same way they did when they had no accountability for their influence. When they make this mistake, they start to deteriorate the exact influence they are trying to grow.

2. Influence is dangerous. As our influence grows, it’s so important that we work harder than ever on our character. Talent often acts as fuel for influence. More times than we would like to admit, we’ve seen talent take people to places that their character is not ready to go. Focus on character and let influence take care of itself.

3. Influence tempts us to manipulate. With influence comes power and the ability to control situations. It also often brings people into our lives who desire to help us and our organizations. Just remember that manipulation is kryptonite to great leadership.

4. Influence grows when we lead by example. Never ask anyone to do something we would not do. That’s pretty simple. People are watching how we act. When we are reactionary rather than responsive, we’re not building confidence with our followers as to how we will handle adversity. Every action speaks loudly. Make sure we’re saying the right things.

5. Influence champions others. What’s the use of influence if we don’t use it to raise up others? Influence becomes multi-generational when we use it to champion those without voice or position. Great leaders understand legacy is built around leveraging their leadership for others. When we do this, we chip away at our own pride that can quickly attach itself to influence.

None of these traits should intimidate us. As leaders, we have to understand that stewardship is often the work of leadership. God has called us to lead and has positioned us for this time and season to leverage our influence to help continue to grow and develop our organizations. We need you to be the best leader you can be so we can all win.

What are a few ways you have learned to manage your influence?

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  • Christy February 9, 2012  

    I just wrote on influence yesterday! Love this angle. Very well-written. Thanks for a great post! 🙂

  • Noah Lomax February 15, 2012  

    Phenomenal article! Great quote: “We’ve seen talent take people to places that their character is not ready to go.” I’m going to share this article with my student leaders. Thanks, Stephen!

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