The headline quote comes from John C. Maxwell, author of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. In my April 4th post, (When Your Accountability Exceeds Your Authority, Increase Your Influence) I talked about how the need to increase your circle of influence is more important than increasing your circle of control.
If you are a manager with people under your “control”, the need to influence is perhaps even more important.
“He who thinks he leads, but has no followers, is only taking a walk.”
I got to thinking about this when a friend was going through some organizational change. His boss– whom he liked, trusted and respected deeply– was summarily dismissed with no good explanation. This added to the distrust and lack of respect my friend already had for his boss’s boss. “She thinks she has already won our hearts and minds, so we should just shut up and march up the hill behind her. She’s going to get to the top and turn around and find out that no one is following her.”
Maxwell’s Five Levels of Leadership describes the (vast) difference between people who follow a leader simply because they have to because of position (with definite limits), and people who follow a leader because of who they are and what they represent. I consider myself lucky to have been around a few true Level 5 leaders in my career, but I could definitely empathize with my friend. Being around those leaders who are stuck at Level 1 gets old really fast.
(Graphic reproduced from the LeadershipNow Leading Blog)
It takes time and effort (and usually a lot of trial and error) to move up in the Five Levels of Leadership. But really, are you satisfied with people following you just because of your position?
How many people “reported” to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?
How many direct reports did Mahatma Gandhi have?
How many people were under the “direct control” of Abraham Lincoln?
“Leadership is influence. No more, no less.”
–John C. Maxwell
What kind of leader are you?