I believe we choose the level of influence we have with our people based on the approach to leadership we choose to take. In my observation there are three distinct approaches to leadership and each derives a different result.
1. Pretentious Leaders create contempt.
Pretentious leaders are driven by ego. Their focus is not on their people, it’s on them. When a leader is conceited, fake, disinterested or abrasive, they create a feeling of contempt with their people. The lack of respect erodes trust and causes desires to undermine the leader’s authority. It’s easy to blame problems on your people and even to fire people who seem to be a thorn in your side, but I want to be clear that bad leadership most often creates contempt.
2. Positional Leaders create compliance.
When leaders rely on position or authority they are not truly leading. People don’t follow titles, they follow people. If people follow you because they have to, it is influence bequeathed, not personally earned, and exercising it can be done lazily because following is not a choice. When people are forced or compelled to follow you in a particular situation, the most you will ever get out of them is compliance. And as Dondi Scumaci likes to say, “Compliance will never take you where commitment can go.”
3. Partner Leaders create commitment.
Partner leaders understand that influence has to be earned. They build genuine relationships, add value, and partner with their people. That is what creates commitment. It is what every leader, salesperson, teacher, speaker, friend or mentor seeks. It is grounded in consistency of character. With this type of influence, no one is forced or compelled to follow you. Instead, they choose to follow you because they buy into you and find worth in your leadership.
What kind of leader are you?