One of the simplest definitions for leadership is summarized in one word: influence.
At its core, leadership is the ability to move people to think and act in a certain way. It is influencing them to a certain perspective and set of actions. In an organization, leading the group often begins with the persuasion of key individuals.
In other words, leaders must influence the influencers.
In church leadership, the principle holds true. We need to lead those who are leading others into the mission of God.
But before you rush out to convince the influencers of your latest insight into God’s mission for your local congregation, let me offer an idea. Discover who are their influencers. Every person who exercises leadership has been led by others. If you want to lead well, then know the people you are leading. Here are five quick ideas to help in influencing the influencers.
- Know their history. Be willing to go behind the scenes in a person’s life. It is the long road, but it is also the right road.
- Know their terminology. We are often hoping for the same outcomes but using different language to discuss it. Make sure you are not missing each other over vernacular.
- Books that shape their thinking. Find out what the influencer has read that framed their view of life, the church, and faith.
- Leaders they emulate. As part of knowing the person’s history, know the people of the person’s past. Discover the heroes they dreamt of becoming and who they still hope to be.
- Understand how they learn. As you get to know your influencers, get to know how they process information. Do they talk themselves into an idea? Are they readers? Do your influencers like long conversations or lots of data on a spreadsheet? Knowing how they can best receive information will help you understand how they lead and how they can be led.
But now I am curious. What are some of your key ideas for leading those who have significant influence in your church or organization?