Leading by Influence Instead of Authority (Part 1 of 4)

Leading by Influence Instead of Authority

Part 1 of a 4-Part Series

by Doni Landefeld, Ph.D. 

Advanced Certified Personal and Executive Coach
Certified Positive Intelligence Coach
EQ-i 2.0 and EQ360 Certified

February 2023

Systems require regular updating, whether it’s related to software, hardware or people. The antiquated form of leading people relied upon regarding staff and employees from a position of authority, but we now know this model, based upon hierarchy no longer works and is a statistically significant reason people quit; they are basically quitting uncaring and uninspiring leaders (from McKinsey’s 2022 Great Attrition, Great Attraction 2.0 global survey).

The ultimate goal of leading others is to influence, yet many leaders miss the mark because they don’t have the skill set to ignite enthusiasm and bring out the best in others.  

This leads me to 2 definitions of leadership that I believe are integral:  

Definition #1: Leadership is giving of yourself to bring out the best in others for a positive outcome  – Dr. Doni

Definition #2: Leaders inspire others into effective action to achieve shared goals – Shirzad Chamine, Stanford University faculty/researcher and founder of Positive Intelligence® 

Although both of these definitions are similar, I invite you to choose the version that resonates best for you. Shirzad Chamine is one of my mentors (and Patrick Lencioni, Peter Senge, and Brene Brown were some of his), so I was validated that the definition I’ve used and promoted for quite some time aligns with his version. 

Inspiration is not powered by data, analytics, logic or reason, so this is where more left-brained skills are best left parked at the curb for a bit. Inspiration is fueled by emotions – how we connect, convey, and communicate. So now we build a case for both positive intelligence and emotional intelligence as inspiration is a concept fueled by feelings. Don’t get me wrong, logic indeed has a necessary place in decision-making and taking action, though imposes an interdependent link with how others feel. Here are two examples, one personal and one workplace relevant. 

Personal Example: Consider a time you were really excited to buy something, like a new car or the most recent, vivid, large-screen TV

Workplace Example: It’s time to update your organization’s client relationship management software (typically with a steep learning curve and resistance to change from staff, though consider the latest debacle with the airlines – so borne out of necessity!)

Yes, the first example may not be a necessity like the workplace example, but that’s not the point. What matters is how both of these situations are influenced. If you’ve ever purchased a car that you really didn’t need, yet loved, it was because you were inspired and excited. And after your purchase, you likely rationalized the hell out of your decision with all kinds of logic. Emotion happened first, then thinking. In the second example, we have a situation that is being fueled by the necessity to stay competitive, serve customers and perhaps avoid obsolescence. Leadership made the decision to upgrade. And then they need to ‘sell’ all their staff who must be trained and acclimated to the new system. I’ve been through several of these “system upgrades” myself in my current practice and back in the day when I worked in academia. And I’ve also worked with several clients who have taken their organizations through system upgrades. I can tell you these changes are rarely received with cheers and applause. The way to get everyone on board and influence is to inspire (and all change also requires empathy – another critical component).

How to inspire so you’re influencing like a true master?  There are four pillars involved: 

  1. Triple Purpose
  2. Earned Trust
  3. Healthy Conflict
  4. Mutual Accountability  

This month, we’re going to look at Triple Purpose which is all about getting clarity and actionable steps pertaining to your organization’s “BIG WHY.”  And as the name implies there is an impact upon three areas:

  • Positive impact on others
  • Positive impact on each other
  • Positive impact on self

We’re applying good ‘ole Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs with this pillar, striving for the greatest self-actualization of self and teammates, and transformation.

Here are examples of low and high achievements of triple purpose to provide more context:

Triple Purpose

Did you know that there’s a program for your team or organization to learn and master the Four Pillars of Inspiring Leadership? It begins with a 7-week foundational Positive Intelligence program and segues into a transformational experience for Leadership Teams.  

If you’d like to learn how to re-energize your team and ignite inspiration, let’s explore your challenges. Schedule your complimentary right-fit session here: 

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