Last Saturday I had the opportunity to speak to one hundred and eighty people on the topic of “Being A Person Of Influence”.  Being a leader is all about being a person of influence.   After all, as John Maxwell says: “The true measure of leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less!”  In these type of conference, someone will always ask, “who makes the best leader?” and usually what they mean is which personality type makes the best leaders.  I’ve discovered that all four personalities traits can be effective leaders because leading is not about personality but about influence.

1) Being a person of influence is a choice.

Influence doesn’t come to us instantly. True leadership cannot be awarded, appointed, or assigned. It comes only from the influence you have with people, and that cannot be mandated. It must be earned as we inspire and add value to those around us. So, earning the credibility to sustain our influence is won over time.

As a faith-based leader, I’m inspired by stories in the Bible.  One of these, is the Old Testament story of Joshua. Joshua and his friend Caleb where two of twelve tribal leaders who were chosen to spy the land over the Jorden river.  Both of these men returned with a strong conviction that Israelites should cross the river and enter the “Promised Land”.  But the other 10 spies were driven by fear and convinced the people that they should remain in the desert. I’ve seen a number of leaders give up when they experience resistance, and yes most of them never try to lead again. Fortunately, Joshua and Caleb were not such leaders.  Joshua continued to learn from Moses, his mentor, and to grow his influence.

2) Joshua was a leader with character.

Most leaders do not fail because of their competences but because of a lack of character.  I always teach organisations to hire people of character.  If you hire someone who lacks character and is lazy or dishonest, arrogant, greedy, seldom do they change and their lack of character will be reflected in the way they treat people in your organisation.  I’m so happy that trainers like Patrick Lancioni recognizes the importance of character and that in his latest book “How to identify and engage ideal team players” he identifies “humility” as one of the three required virtues.

3) Joshua was a leader with good values.

Values influences and drive your behaviour.  So, what are your values?

a) Joshua’s family came first

Many leaders put their business or ministry needs before those of their family.  However, when a leader puts his family first, both his/her family and ministry will benefit. But when a leader puts his ministry first, both his family and his ministry suffer. Even business leaders agree with prioritizing family.  Bill McDermott who is the CEO of SAP believe that the most important thing you can do is to think about a balanced work life.  Bill says: “I tried to prioritize my marriage, my children, my family above everything else because in the end those are the things that will be here when everything else is gone.”[1]  Objects are disposable but not our family.

b) Joshua was driven by his convictions did what was right regardless of the opinion of the crowd

Even as a young leader, Joshua was a man of conviction.  He didn’t follow the crowd at the beginning of his ministry when the spies resisted God and Moses because of their fears, and he didn’t follow the crowd when his ministry was at its end. It’s interesting that Joshua led the Jewish people in the midst of a spiritual crises.  His advice to was “If you decide that it’s a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you’d rather serve—and do it today. Choose one of the gods your ancestors worshiped from the country beyond The River, or one of the gods of the Amorites, on whose land you’re now living. As for me and my family, we’ll worship God.”

He consistently led with integrity, courage, and conviction… and his influence grew.  People follow men and women of conviction.

c) Joshua was a continual learner and his influence grew

Warren Bennis and Bert Nanus are quoted for this statement, “It’s the capacity to develop and improve their skills that distinguishes leaders from their followers.”  There is no doubt that successful leaders are continually learning. For them, the learning process is on-going and a result of self-discipline and perseverance allowing them to learn something new every day.  This was the case for Joshua as Moses prepared him to take of the leadership of the Jewish people.

There is great wisdom in the quote by Benjamin Disraeli who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1874 – 1880.  He said: “The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his time when it comes”.  Remember, influence doesn’t come to us instantaneously but rather it grows by stages.

Mentoring question:  At what stage is your influence and what practical steps can you take to increase tour influence?

[1] http://bigthink.com/videos/the-best-executives-put-their-family-first-with-sap-ceo-bill-mcdermott

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