A Realistic View of Influence

The number of your "Followers" is not a true reflection of influence.

One of the many qualities of a good leader is having a realistic view of your influence. You should assess how much influence you truly have verses how much you think you have.  You should also be aware of your God given gifts, and know that it is not always the person on stage every week that has the greatest influence.  The following is an article from Dan Reiland (one of our Celera Group coaches) regarding true influence.

“Gaining and Losing Influence Part 2”

by Dan Reiland
Do you Twitter? If yes, you can follow me @DanReiland. If you don’t Twitter, you may want to check it out and give it a try.
www.twitter.com If Twitter is new to you, let me tell you about it. It’s a social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and receive messages of up to 140 characters known as Tweets. Most Twitter enthusiasts do this with their cell phone, but you can also use your computer. You set up your own profile page and blast away. Some who twitter annoy the tar out of others by tweeting 30 – 40 – 50 times a day. Get a life! But most just send a few blasts a day and its great. I’ve received some great quotes, book recommendations, news updates, websites, blogs, in the moment pictures, and of course fun factoids from my friends on what they are doing in the moment that day.

Now this is where it really gets fun. Your subscribers are known as followers. Yes, followers! And it’s easy to get addicted to increasing the number of people who follow you. But let’s be clear on something, just because you have an increasing number of followers on Twitter, that doesn’t mean your influence is on the rise as a leader! I hope you are smiling with me, I’m having some fun here. But I do want to make a point. You may be an influential person. That can gain you a large following on Twitter, but let’s stay solidly connected to the idea of real influence with people who know you, and you lead them in your local church!

Again, I think Twitter is fun and can be very useful. On most days, I post a few Tweets, hopefully some add value to you and others are just for fun. But there are things in life like Twitter that can give a false indication of your real influence. For example, when people stand in line after church to shake your hand, and tell you how great the sermon was, that might not be a true indicator of your real influence! Or, in contrast, you may have a board member stirring up trouble for you and that too is not an accurate picture of your true level of influence in the church. As a leader you are responsible not only to understand the level of your influence but why you are gaining or losing it.

In Part 1, I dealt with losing influence. In this article I want to offer some thoughts on gaining influence. It’s difficult to surpass the insightful and practical teaching of John Maxwell in one of his classic lessons on leadership called “The Five Levels of Leadership.” It progressively shows what larger influence looks like and why your influence increases. I’ll list them here for a quick review.

Level 1 Position People follow you because of your rights.
Level 2 Permission People follow you because of your relationships.
Level 3 Production People follow you because of your results.
Level 4 People Development People follow you because of your reproduction.
Level 5 Personhood People follow you because out of respect.

In Positional Leadership people follow you because they have to. In Permission Leadership, people follow you because they want to. In Production Leadership people follow you because of what you have done for the organization. In Leadership that Develops People they follow you because of what you have done for them. And in Personhood Leadership, people follow you because of who you are and what you represent.

That’s a brief review of John Maxwell’s teaching. If you’ve never studied it, you may want to get a copy of his book, Developing the Leader Within You. It’s a great book.

It’s difficult to improve on the five levels as a framework for assessing and increasing influence, so I’d like to take the five levels and deliver similar ideas with a slightly different twist. I’ve gained so much from John’s leadership, I’d love to make a contribution by passion these thoughts on to you.

• Who you are

Leadership always begins and ends with you who are. I mean just you, at the core, undressed from all the world’s cloaks, titles and trappings. On the outside you may receive a title, but your character will determine if you earn the title and use it well. If you are weak in discipline you will soon surrender your title to someone who really wants it. Your motives will determine how long you last in leadership. I doubt that you lead out of a need for popularity or power. But you may lead from insecurity, a need to please, or perhaps a need to control. When you relax in a self-aware, self-loving, and self-disciplined life, the “who you are” that God made you is exactly as it should be. This will allow you to get out of your own way, and the person God created you to be will blossom into the leader you need to be and your influence will naturally begin to rise.

• Your relationships with other people

In the local church environment we all know that relationship rules. If you don’t pay attention to relationships you won’t lead large or long. Volumes are written on getting along with people, but none of it is rocket science. The list goes like this: “Listen, smile, know people’s names, see life through their eyes, give more than you take;” you could easily write the list yourself. These things are true and important, but they all wrap into the big idea of whether or not you really care and if you are willing to put others before yourself. Honestly, that’s tough. It’s not tough for an hour or a week, but year after year after year can wear on you. It’s easy to start resenting everyone taking, until you remember that’s what you signed up for. Here’s the key insight, people aren’t so much taking as you are giving. That perspective matters because it’s your choice. You chose to be a leader. Give freely for the best interests of others and people will want to follow you, and your influence will increase.

• What you accomplish

This is easier to discuss and measure than the first two, but certainly not easier to achieve on a consistent basis. You can be a good person, and have great relationships, but at some point you have to get something done. Leaders make things happen and what you make happen matters. What does the church need? What is the vision? What are your responsibilities? What are your strengths? What are the available resources? What does God say? The convergence of the answers to these questions is not so much like a treasure map that you just figured out, but more like a divine appointment in the process of your ongoing leadership journey. Your journey is made up of dozens, hundreds, literally thousands of these divine appointments where your efforts align with God’s power. That is the process of getting things done that matter. When you go after progress like that your influence begins to grow like crazy. No excuses, just progress.

• How you invest in others

You can’t leave any of the five points out, and since they are in sequence it’s not smart to rank them, but for me, this is where the process really comes alive. When I invest in the development of other people – other leaders, it all begins to make sense. It’s a reciprocal process, it’s full circle, not one direction. We don’t become good leaders for the sake of becoming a good leader. We become good leaders so we can help others become good leaders and together we build a church that is faithful to God’s purpose. When you know what it takes to lead, it’s all but a miracle to see someone come to Christ, mature in their faith, choose to give themselves away and lead for other than their own gain. That is radical, period! When you invest yourself into others in such a way that helps them rise up and effectively lead for life-change, the influence you are given is huge. This is not rock-star influence, its influence that is gained in the trenches helping people become “bigger, better, and stronger” people.

• Who you are

We’re back to where we started, who you are. When I was a young leader I thought it was all about the people discovering who you are as a leader and deciding if they will follow. I now think it’s more about the leader discovering who they are as a person and leaning into that Divine design. Not in a narcissistic way, but in the way of a servant learning how to give. When you fight God’s intended purpose you waste so much time. I see church leaders who want to be on a stage and speak and God wants them to sit with a small group and teach. I see others who want to lead a staff and God wants them to organize plans in relative obscurity. I know that is over-simplified, but what I’m trying to say is that being yourself is the most freeing experience you can imagine and there is no end to what God can do in you and through you. People have such profound respect for leaders like that because, frankly, it’s just not that easy. The pressures of long term successful leadership are tough and leaders often throw in the towel in one way or another. So hang tough. Keep leading. Be yourself and don’t lose heart.

Until next time,

Chris Sonken


The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.
– Ken Blanchard


About Chris Sonksen

Chris Sonksen is the founder and Lead Pastor of South Hills Church and has an exceptional ability to inspire both secular and non-secular audiences. Under his leadership, South Hills has experienced phenomenal growth and in just a few short years has grown from a handful of people to nearly 3000 in attendance today. Today South Hills has become a thriving, multi-service and multi-site church. Chris has a magnetic, captivating and humorous style for motivating and inspiring all audiences. As a motivational speaker, he has spoken both nationally and internationally in companies such as Verizon, Securitas and Home Depot, and there is no doubt that by applying his teachings, his audience will improve the quality of their lives! Chris is the author of two books In Search of Higher Ground and Handshake. Chris is the founder of Celera Church Strategy Group an organization with an unwavering commitment to excellence in all things, with the goal to “raise the national average of church attendance,” by equipping church leaders with resources and coaching. Chris brings high-energy focus and a passion for vision and leadership to encourage and equip the local Church. Chris is a native Californian, born in Long Beach and currently resides in Corona with his wife, Laura and their two children, Grace and Aidan.

Posted on November 23, 2009, in influence, Leadership, Personal Growth and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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