It is, the right Behaviour, at the right Time, for the right People©
Every great brand has a great tagline – it cuts to the core of what the brand is, what it stands for, what it embodies.
So it is for Influential Leadership.
At its most fundamental level, Influential Leadership (ILP) stands on three pillars supported by one founding principle,
as captured in its tagline:
- Behaviour – a person is primarily defined by their behaviour;
- Time – leadership moments and responses have a time dimension; and
- People – people are the focal point.
The founding principle is ‘right’, and right suggests:
Social media prefers shorter soundbites, so the ILP tagline for SM is just –
#doRight, which also captures the essence of the matter.
Theodore Roosevelt sagely advises us that –
In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing,
the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
A person cannot lead a country [a global business] if they cannot lead a city;
they cannot lead a city if they cannot lead a family;
and they cannot lead a family unless
they can lead themselves.
Why is it REVOLUTIONARY?
Revolution is such a big word; an emotive and loaded word.
Many people may have images of social demonstrations, political turmoil, upheaval, blood in the streets and the violent overthrow of the existing state order; the time when the poor, the unemployed, the excluded, the hopeless masses take the lives and property of those who have something to take.
That is the old way. The French-, Russian-, and American- Revolutions, and maybe even the Arab Spring are old-style social solutions to economic, political and social problems.
The Influential Leadership Revolution has a lot of change and sweat involved; but no blood.
Instead, one of the objectives of the Influential Leadership Revolution is to prevent an old-style Revolution! Unless we change some fundamental structures, processes and outcomes there may be a time when history repeats itself, to no productive end for any.
Influential Leadership is REVOLUTIONARY because it requires radical change, as is the wont of all Revolutions. There has been tinkering on the margins for 60 years; there can be no more.
However, as is the case in most arduous endeavours whose results seem to lie beyond many people’s horizon, people prefer to stay where they are until it is too late.
It need not be so –
Influential Leadership offers an opportunity to be proactive and lead the Revolution.
A Revolution is variously defined as:
- “a dramatic and wide-reaching change in conditions, attitudes, or operation”,
- “a sudden, radical, or complete change in something”, or
- “activity or movement designed to effect fundamental changes”.
A frequent use of the term in current times is the so-called digital revolution; which is described as, “the advancement of technology from analog electronic and mechanical devices to the digital technology available today. The era started to during the 1980s and is ongoing.” (Techopedia).
Even though the tech-revolution does not fit the standard definition of Revolution as far as speed of change is concerned, it has still moved faster than economic, social and political changes have.
It is time for the other Revolution to catch up.
The primary differences between Influential Leadership and conventional leadership are illustrated alongside.
The greatest risk to Influential Leadership is not that those who consider themselves part of the current architecture will resist its advantages, but that those who for so long have not taken up their responsibilities, will continue to deny them.
One of the great weaknesses of a democratic system is the lack of personal responsibility that members or citizens exercise. They bemoan the state of everything, blaming others, but seldom realise that their institution or country is the way it is because they are the way they are.
There can be no Revolution without people being responsible for it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.
Can a criminal / unethical person be an Influential Leader
In brief, no.
If someone’s behaviour is in the realm of patently criminal or unethical activity, such as corruption (taking or giving a bribe), money laundering, price fixing, or cheating and so forth, then those behaviours cannot be defined as ILP, even if such a person holds high office, or is esteemed in some manner. However, it may be that in a particular social domain, say at home with their partner and family, that same person’s behaviour may be aligned with ILP. The key measure is what the person does in each leadership demanding condition. Can the CEO of a business who has corrupted the accounting system to inflate the business profile be an Influential Leader? No, not in that instance; and it is highly likely that they will be cheats and lairs in other areas and thus probably unable to live by ILP principles at all.
Does failure at ILP on an occasion mean I am a failure (as a leader)
Yes, and no.
Influential Leadership is about leadership behaviour each time one is at a ‘leadership moment’ (a circumstance that requires Leadership to be exercised).
ILP does not subscribe to the principle of ‘once a leader, always a leader’ (akin to the ‘once saved always saved’ idea from some belief systems).
Thus, failure to exercise ILP at one particular moment is a singular failure and not a general one, and thus not a signal that one is a failure (as a leader).
Does ILP have a place in the domain of 'cut throat' business requirements
Business or At Work is one of our social domains – it is not war, and even in war we pretend to have rules of engagement (even if that is simply wishful thinking).
If ‘cut throat’ implies behaviour outside the law or the attributes of ILP then there is always going to be a contradiction.
At the core of ILP is the notion of excellence, being and doing the best possible – without cheating, being criminal, or corrupt.
Anyone exercising well-practiced and disciplined ILP in the most demanding business leadership moments has the best chance of sustainable success.
Does ILP lead to success
Yes; at least it gives you a best shot at success. (but, we may also need to review what ‘success’ means.)
There is no recipe for guaranteed success at anything – even in the natural sciences there must be perfect circumstances for an experiment to be replicated. In social domains (circumstances where humans are involved) there is even lesser chance that you will win each time, if that is what is implied by success.
Each Olympic athlete is the best, but on the day, only one wins (if that is success). Asset managers pride themselves in outperforming the market and their peers, however, even they acknowledge that ‘past results do not guarantee future results’ – even with the best recipe in town.
There is no ‘success recipe’ as if it can be formulaically replicated; but the question is whether certain behaviours and traits set one up for the greatest probability of success and excellence.
Does ILP manage big issues or is it just ordinary daily matters
Leadership moments arrive in our lives in all colours, shapes and sizes.
Leadership moments arrive in our lives in a variety of sizes – from the mundane to the momentous and life-changing sorts.
Some of us are faced with leadership moments that are decisive in our own lives, those of our partners and families, the places where we work and even our communities and countries. Some individuals are placed in positions of great power and authority that present them with leadership moments that can influence the course of world history.
For the most part we do not face headline-news leadership moments on a day-to-day basis.
Does ILP matter when most people simply want to get on with their lives and could not care less about such matters (Is it not better to let others lead so that I can just enjoy my life)
Everyone cares about leadership when it it absent, whether they acknowledge it or not.
Those who say they simply want to be left alone to get on with their lives soon alter their positions if their neat personal existence is negatively affected by the adverse behaviours of a partner, neighbour, boss, colleague or the President. Laziness and lack of personal responsibility to exercise leadership do not exorcise leadership moments.
Also, leadership moments cannot be extinguished from our lives; even if we were a hermit on a mountain top there would be decisive situations that require personal leadership processes.
Does Influential Leadership imply being docile, compliant or timid
These traits, and their antonyms, by the way, are not the attributes of ILP.
An Influential Leader is self-aware (able to look candidly at themselves); they’re courageous, hopeful and purposeful too. These are daunting and demanding traits that often stand both between the timid and the arrogant, and being an Influential Leader.
Refer to the associated question about the value of ILP in so-called cut throat business.
How do I become an Influential Leader
By accepting that:
- ILP is a way of life that is learned, practiced and exhibited through behaviour;
- Each leadership moment requires ILP, and not just those big moments that we wait for or that are someone else’s responsibility;
- ILP is in the doing, in our behaviours that we are Influential Leaders and not in a certificate, position, or birthright;
- Leadership is not the right or privilege of anyone other than those who learn and practice it the hardest;
Learning ILP is like any learning: it is a function of new information, gaining knowledge, exercising the new knowledge, practice, practice and practice.
Is ILP a form of socialism
There is always the brief answer – and here again it is a resounding no.
Influential Leadership is not an economic or political or belief system. However, economic and political systems (and perhaps belief systems) can be assessed through the lens of Influential Leadership by subjecting the common behaviours through the lens of ILP attributes.
I would aver that there have been great ILP failures across all economic and political systems in practice.
Is ILP a once-off learning
ILP is in the doing, only. No matter how well I master the theory of leadership, if my behaviour is inconsistent with the theory it means nothing.
If I am off my bicycle for a few weeks I find my legs are wobbly on the hills, my seat is sore and I hesitate on the technical sections…
Is ILP all ethics with no performance
There is no contradiction between ethics and performance in ILP.
If ethics is about lawfulness, doing the right things, having a social consciousness and being respectful of self and others, then it is so.
ILP thrives on competition, striving for excellence and being the best we can be at whatever we choose to do – At Home, Work, Play or Anywhere else.
Is ILP some kind of utopian dream
Influential Leadership is both visionary and practical, and never quixotic or naïve.
Leadership is arguably the most absent social trait of the 21st Century. No matter the social context – in homes, places of work, politics, recreation, all over – there is the unending refrain of people asking for leadership, and decrying current so-called leaders, and bemoaning the absence of leadership.
Allow me to use Ziggy Marley to coach this idea: Things like lack of leadership and a lack of the willingness to evolve, they’re so used to keeping people within the constraints of the idea that has been the same idea for a thousand years.
Is influence good or bad
Influence can be both – it has no ethical or moral content. However, ILP is by definition productive at personal and collective levels.
Influence in the context of ILP must subscribe to the eight attributes, and the outcome must be right.
What are the personal and collective benefits of being an Influential Leader
There are always three direct benefits to being a proficient Influential Leader:
- You (individuals) will probably be more successful in your leadership behaviours at every leadership moment, and by implication life is likely to be better and more meaningful;
- Whatever collective you may be part of – family, business, public representation, pastime – will benefit and be better off for more people; and
The general social condition will be improved.
What is the difference between ILP and other forms of leadership
There are so many references to the notion of ‘leadership’ that it has become almost anything to anyone.
If ten people are asked what they think leadership is, it is likely that ten different answers will emerge. Take a look at the article / document ‘100 answers to the question: What is leadership?’ that offers 100 opinions on what leadership is.
Influential Leadership is doing the ‘right thing’ when there is no witness; as it is when you are powerful enough to do as you please, but still do what is right; it is doing the right things – at home, at work, at play or anywhere between, when the leadership moment arises.
What is ILP
Refer the relevant pages elsewhere on the site.
What is influence
Influence is a person’s or an organisation’s leverage, either to affect a person’s development, behaviour or thinking or events and their outcome (result). Influence is the opposite of a rope around the neck or a gun at ones back or the threat of some sanction. Influence is exercised through persuasion, debate, fact-based argument, inclusiveness, listening and hearing, and obtaining mental, emotional and physical buy-in to an idea, a direction, a decision, or a course of action.
What is leadership
Leadership is about influencing oneself and others to do the right things; to go in the right direction.
There is democratic content in ILP, it has no dictatorial undertones. Leadership of the influential kind assumes that a person takes the first step in initiating or doing something, both internally and externally, and galvanises others through a certain set of behaviours. It may be that the original idea, route and destination are adjusted as a result of the input of others, but there cannot be deviation from influential behaviour traits.
Other forms of social capability, such as autocracy, dictatorship, bullying, coercion, or intimidation are by definition not leadership, and certainly not Influential Leadership.
Leadership is also not merely getting people to go along with you; to follow you. Such a definition assumes a monopoly on who knows where to go or what to do or what is best beyond some narrow interest. Without democratic content, the give and take of thoughts, ideas, alternatives, debate, and open-mindedness, there is inevitably a socially poor (dysfunctional) process and outcome.
Leadership is displayed (or not) at each leadership moment.
What is the ‘right thing’. Surely it is different for different people and times
There is surely no recipe for the ‘right thing’, except that at the moment when leadership (leadership moment) is required we sum up the various facts and conditions and do the best we can by giving effect to the attributes of ILP.
Time and place may impact what is deemed right, but there are many instances when we know that some things are always right; it is not possible to dress up everything as possibly right depending on where and when someone is faced with a leadership moment.
Why is (influential) leadership important – to anyone, to a business, an organisation, a company, a country, a team, to any social collective
This question begs pages of copy… but let me answer it as follows.
- The one thing all leaders have in common is that they lead – at the time and place when a leadership moment arises; a person chooses to lead.
- Leadership is about decision-making, action, behaviour, going towards a chosen objective or destination, taking oneself and others to an (agreed) outcome.
- Leadership finds solutions, gets us out of impasses, takes us forwards, finds new ways of doing things, resolves disputes, and creates a better set of conditions than would have been the case without it.
- When it is absent, even if we are unsure what exactly it is, we know it has been absent and we lament this.
- When our social domains, whether they are personal, At- Home, Work, Play, in politics, organised religions or elsewhere, are in a mess, we ask: ‘Where is the leadership?’
- Leadership reminds me of the tip of a pen – it is where the ink hits the paper, it can go any way it chooses, it can create greatness, or rubbish – it is in the hands of the bearer, and it is indispensable to writing.
Influential Leadership goes beyond leadership in that it can only create outcomes that are generally beneficial as each leadership moment arises.
What is a ‘social domain’
A social domain is the immediate physical, organisational, cultural and social setting in which a person exercises a particular aspect of their lives.
A social domain exists at a sub-level to ‘social context’, which is at a more general and aggregated level, but that does influence the nature of a social domain.
Influential Leadership establishes four social domains, three termed ‘foundation social domains’ and one supplementary version, namely: (i) the home where we develop as an individual but also begin our socialisation process, and includes our lives as scholars or students or apprentices; followed by (ii) our work spaces – when we have fledged the home and start our own productive lives; then (iii) our fun spaces in sport and recreation and hobbies; lastly, there is a supplementary social domain, which is (iv) all the spaces when we are living between the base domains.
What is a 'leadership moment'
Leadership Moments are personal and social junctions (circumstances), in every social domain, that require leadership decision-making and action; they demand leadership behaviours.
A Leadership Moment arises when a person is faced with a circumstance of some importance that demands both a decision and consequent action (behaviour) that will affect them and others in some material way.
Leadership Moments exist in two primary dimensions.
- Magnitude: Size or importance.
It is easy to understand or connect with those big events (moments) that we think are the business of “leaders”, such as the CEO of a large corporation to merge with another; or to restructure the company; and a county’s president to implement a new economic policy, or how to spend a budget, or whether to go to war; or a sports’ team captain who decides on one move to win or lose a game. (We know they do not make these decisions on their own, but it looks like they do!)
These are big and important because they have immense impact for many people in many different ways.
What is less easy to appreciate and is often neglected is that we all make leadership decisions all the time – we just don’t see them like that, but should – and Influential Leadership teaches us to do just that.
These seemingly smaller or less important events (moments) may in fact have greater impact on a person’s life than the big ones made by “big leaders”.
Here we think of our decisions about what ‘to do with our life’, what discipline / subject to study, who to marry, to have children or not, whether to run a traffic light, whether to get drunk in front of our children, whether to stand up to a boss that bullies, or to jump a queue, or to say no when all others are saying yes…
None of these are trivial – each one has impact on ourselves and those around us – often those closest to us.
- Social domains (refer to the definition if needs be).
Leadership moments occur in and across the four social domains that ILP uses as an analytical tool, namely: @Home, @Work, @Play and @nywhere.
The principle is that ILP happens in a wall-to-wall fashion across our lives, not only in business, or politics, or on the sports fields, or in war.
Thus, Leadership Moments are found in a variety of sizes and across all our social domains.