Power and Influence
A dear friend of mine, Kalani, recently traveled to the Philippines and spent a day carving with a man named Ernesto and his apprentices. After a day spent swapping stories and emerging himself in a craft he loves, he bought me a carving from Ernesto’s shop. For those of you who may not recognize it, it’s the Archangel Michael defeating Lucifer.
Kalani’s gift serves to remind me of the things I have conquered over the years but in addition, the story behind the carving is a direct reflection of leadership.
Michael was not the most powerful angel in Heaven. Indeed, he was ranked among the lowest “angelic orders” whereas Lucifer was ranked highest.
Yet Michael prevailed. How can this be?
Oftentimes, Managers and Supervisors assume position power is their primary source of influence. Perhaps they think their title or their ability to coerce or reward will assure them a strong following.
Or perhaps they think their access to others or information will persuade their teams to stick with them.
Michael’s story reflects the opposite. Michael had no tangible or physical standing, he had no ability to punish or reward. And for all intents and purposes, he was the “least connected” of the angels and therefore, had limited ability to attract others in that regard.
But influence? Michael had oodles of it! He drew from his “personal” source of power as opposed to the “position” side of the equation.
Michael was clear in his purpose to help souls find their way “home” and he didn’t stray from this purpose or the virtues associated with it.
As leaders, we must be clear and align with our purpose. When we stray, whether it be with our actions, allocation of resources, attitudes and beliefs, we are unable to help our employees find their way.
Michael eliminated fear. Fear is toxic in an organization and we are burdened with providing some assurances to our staff that all will be well, solutions will be found, etc. Even when faced with dire messages, good leaders will deliver them with transparency, truthfulness and calmness in an effort to decrease fear and uncertainty.
Work is not perfect and problems are many…I will never make light of this. However, we mustn’t allow these challenges to frighten our staff and instead, we must ensure they know we are neither too far ahead or too far behind. Indeed, we are with them along the way.
Michael coached. Many stories, legends, etc. show him as knowing everyone personally, inside and out, like no other! He knew their strengths, he knew their weaknesses, he knew their stories, he knew their dreams. Therefore, he knew how to coach and instruct them.
I often hear supervisors and managers tell me they don’t have time for this nonsense, they don’t have time to get to know their team. Alas, these people are not leaders. Leaders know we must take the time, leaders know this investment will come back tenfold, that it has infinite value. Only when we invest in our teams can they become exemplary!
Michael was a personal trainer. He encouraged and inspired others not to give up. He helped them visualize their goals and visualize success.
Leaders should do this too! We should build our teams up, encourage them to stretch beyond their comfort zone, and say more often “you can do it!” Absence of these things results in lack of belief, decreased productivity, loss of positive attitudes, decreased quality, and, ultimately, a lack of retention. On the other hand, the presence of such encouragement results in brilliance.
Finally, Michael was courageous.
Strong and effective leaders demonstrate courage. How else can we inspire out of the box thinking with our teams? How else can we motivate our teams to take risks? How else can we model learning and growth without stepping into the unknown ourselves?
Aligning with purpose
Michael did all of these things and, as a result, influenced a team of angels, which led to the defeat of someone/something much more powerful than him.
We all have challenges that are overwhelming.
We all are faced with burdens or issues that appear to be out of our control or have more energy than we can sustain.
But, like Michael, we have our armies. The question is, are we influencing them to stand beside us?