LDRS 291: The Influential Leader — Some Thoughts and Notes for Final Paper

Author’s Note: The following notes and thoughts are fodder for students to reflect on before writing a 4-5 page paper (APA Style) answering the following questions:

  • Introduction: What is this course about?  What is unique about it?
  • How, When, and Why will I be a POWER leader and follow one?   Please explain.
  • How, When, and Why will I be a PARTICIPATION leader and follow one? Please explain.
  • How, When, and Why will I be a POSITIVE  leader and follow one?  Please explain.
  • Conclusion: What is the most important thing you learned from this course?

Some Thoughts on Influence

“A small particle introduced into a human system at the right time may disrupt the system in a positive way” (Robert Quinn, Change the World, p. 2).


Sometimes things aren’t what we think they are.  Usually there is something we don’t see under the surface.  This is very true regarding leadership.

Leadership in a word is influence.  We all are leaders because we all influence others.  The question is How?  Another question is Why?

First How.  To change the world we think we need power.  Sometimes we do.  We think we need to get power through political means.  We think we need power to get people to conform to our way of thinking and doing. If we could only make a policy or pass a law and force people to comply…

But there is real danger there.   As Lord Acton famously said: “Power tends to corrupt….”

Influence vs Power

The irony is that we can influence others by empowering them.  Even more remarkable: we can influence best by changing ourselves to better meet the needs of others.  Instead of breaking people down (and “corrupting” ourselves and others), we can build them up.  There is a lot more influence potential via empowering than power can provide.

Thus there is a difference between influence and power.  Power is a form of influence.  Another form of influence is authority.  James Hunter defines authority is “the skill of getting people to willingly do your will” versus power which is the ability to force or coerce someone to do your will” (The Servant, p. 30).

Now Why.  Gandhi and MLK were world changers.  They were fueled by what Bill Hybels calls “a holy discontent.”  So they did something about it.  But they had to battle people who had much political power.   How did they do that?  Why did they do that?

The Life You Always Wanted
Dis-Appointing God

John Ortberg in The Life You Always Wanted claims we are in a state of dis-appointment when we fail to live the live we were appointed by God to live.  We do this when we remove God from the central role in our lives.   Paradoxically, we also do this when we fail to become ourselves.  “We are called by God to live as our uniquely created selves” and we do this best when we “live increasingly as Jesus would in our own unique place — to perceive what Jesus would perceive if he looked through our eyes, to think what he would think, to feel what he would feel, and therefore to do what he would do” (John Ortberg, The Life You Always Wanted, p. 14).

What might it mean to become like Jesus and become our ourselves when it comes to influence?

Here is some of what we know about influence.

Influence and Orientation

There are three basic leadership orientations:

  • Power (i.e., political, position-oriented)
  • Participation (i.e., team-oriented)
  • Positivity (i.e., interpersonal and transcending-oriented; from “positive” psychology: at the extreme “positive” tail of a bell curve)


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Power requires political position.  It is extrinsic, hygiene power, which means it influences externally.  Pseudo-followers, if we can call them that, don’t believe in their leaders as much as they are scared by them.   Thus this type of influence is limited by the next person with power and why “powerful” leaders themselves live in fear.  Examples of negative deviants of Power include J.Edgar Hoover, Hitler, and Stalin, but also Assad, ISIS, and Putin.

Participation requires inclusiveness.  It influences both externally and internally.  Quasi-followers don’t necessarily believe in their leaders but aren’t scared of them either.  They participate because they trust their leaders just enough because they are just vulnerable enough to ask them to.

Positivity requires moral character.  It influences internally.  Authentic followers, which they truly are because they will endure hardships for their leaders, believe in them and have internalized their values and vision because their leaders have internally changed into an authentic servants.   Thus this type of influence is enduring — beyond the life of the leader.  Examples of positive deviants of Positivity include Gandhi, Mandela, and MLK.

How have you become an authentic servant leader?  You are less “normal” and more “fundamental:”

  • More others-focused than self-focused
  • More internally-motivated than externally-motivated
  • More open-minded than closed-minded
  • More purpose-driven than comfort-driven


LDRS 291 9-11


If we consolidated our three-approach model to a two-approach model, we’d be talking about the difference between Theory X and Y assumptions underlying influence strategies.  Theory X basically assumes people can’t be trusted, don’t want to learn, and don’t want to work, and don’t want to find meaning at work.  Therefore Power-oriented tactics are acceptable.  Theory Y basically assumes the opposite about people, therefore Participatory-oriented tactics are more likely to work.


Five Dysfunctions


The Participation orientation is common.  Whereas a Power-oriented approach makes Theory X assumptions, a Participation-oriented influence approach makes both Theory X and Theory Y assumptions.

A common Participation approach is the functioning team approach as demonstrated and articulated in Patrick Lencioni’e Five Dysfunctions of a Team.  Create trust by being vulnerable, encourage conflict to get buy-in, then hold people accountable and pay attention to results.


Meeting agenda


In a meeting, engage in small talk and be vulnerable before engaging in the heart of the meeting.  Encourage conflict to get buy-in, etc.

Another Participation approach is the Advice Process as articulated in Dennis Bakke’s The Decision Maker.  The basic idea is to move decision-making down the organization chart.  Those higher up get to choose the decision-makers.  But how to they choose them?  By seeking advice from all those impacted first.  One they choose a person to make an important decision, that person must seek advice from all the parties impacted.  Then the are held accountable, they are all involved, including those higher up who gave them the authority.   To do this, requires change on the part of both those in leadership and follower-ship roles.

But both have a difficult time letting go of power.   Trust always seems to have its limits.   The tension between the results of the process and the desired results is real.


LDRS 291 Integrity


With a three approach model, we can add the concepts of integrity and self-change.  Integrity is integrating espoused values and lived values such that there is no difference.  People respect and follow people who significantly change their behavior based on their values.  As we move from a Power-orientation to a Participation-orientation to a Positive-orientation, we move from less to more integrity with the highest of human values and from trying to change others to changing ourselves.

Influence and Processes

We can say people have three sources of influence:

  • Position
  • Credibility and Attractiveness
  • Integrity


LDRS 291 Kelman


People being influences can respond by accepting or not accepting the influence.  They will be more likely to accept depending on the process and need:

  • Compliance: superficial acceptance of a message or the fulfilling of a request because of influencer’s position and the receiver’s physiological/economic need; works best when there is an imbalance of power with the leader (influencer) in a far superior position with the ability to use force.
  • Identification: shallow acceptance or the fulfilling of a request because of the influencer’s credibility and attractiveness and the receivers social/belonging need; works best when power between individuals is somewhat balanced, with the leader (influencer) in a slightly stronger position.
  • Internalization: deep acceptance and fulfilling of a request because of the influencer’s integrity and servant leader attitude and self-sacrifice according to the highest of human values and the receiver’s self-actualizing/calling need; works even when the leader (influencer) is in an inferior position.


Culture and Influence

We can understand Power and Credibility/Attractiveness processes in terms of a “transactional” continuum, whose midpoint is Telling and whose extremes are anchored by less identification and more identification.

Power-Oriented                                                                       Participatory-oriented

Less Identification Forcing Telling Participating More Identification

Transactional strategies for achieving compliance, then, go from Forcing/Coercion to Telling to Participating with others. (Note: we “normally” go from Telling to the left [toward Forcing] instead of to the right [toward Participating with others]).  Strategies between Forcing and Telling include Intimidation and Incentivizing.  Participating with others can be thought of as team building and collaborative strategic decision-making, which involves more credibility, reliability, and intimacy and less self-orientation, including being more emotionally vulnerable and open to others, which fosters identification.

Power and Participation leadership also requires different skill sets depending on the strategy and place on the continuum: from political to technical to interpersonal.  Participatory leadership in particular requires the skill set of a trusted advisor.

We can understand Integrity processes in terms of a “transcending” continuum whose midpoint is Transforming and whose extremes are anchored by less internalization and more internalization.

Less Internalization Fewer “Moments of Greatness” Transforming More “Moments of Greatness” More Internalization


Influence Principles

Robert Cialdini and Jeffrey Pfeffer in Managing with Power provide the following influence principles that correspond with a Power and/or Participatory orientation, a Positional source of power, and a Compliance and/or Identification  process.

Psychological Principles of Influence

  • Contrast: “We see and experience events in terms of what has just occurred.  We economize on memory by tending to react primarily to what we have recently experienced” (Jeffrey Pfeffer, Managing with Power, p. 190).
  • Commitment and Consistency: “Previous actions…constrain our psychological freedom to take a different course….we are bound to actions that 1) we choose voluntarily with little or no outside pressure, 2) are visible and public, so we cannot deny being responsible for them, 3) are irrevocable, so we cannot change them easily, and 4) are explicit in their implications about our attitudes, values, and subsequent behavior” (Jeffrey Pfeffer, Managing with Power, p. 192)
  • Scarcity (cf. Psychological reactance): ‘How things look to us also depends on how scarce they are.  It is often difficult to value something objectively.  However, if many others want it, than we assume it probably has value….[W]e hate to lose the freedom we already have…we will react against the interference by wanting and trying to possess the item more than we did before….What you advocate should always appear to be scarce” (pp. 202, 203)

Sociological Principles of Influence

  • Social Proof: “It is useful to distinguish between complying with or publicly confirming the beliefs of others in order to gain acceptance…and a situation of informational social influence, in which we come to agree with others because we crave the certainty of a shared opinion” (ibid, p. 208).
  • Liking and Ingratiation/Reciprocity: “…we prefer to say yes to the requests of people we know and like….Liking for others is based on a number of factors, including 1) social similarity…, 2) physical attractiveness…,3) compliments and flattery…, 4) contact and cooperation…, 5) association with positive things….” (ibid, p. 213)
  • Emotional Manipulation [cf. authority/demagogues — i.e., most political campaigning] (ibid, p. 221):

LDRS 291 Jan 20 2016

How does this work?  From a Power-oriented approach, a source of influence is Position.  A person in a Position of influence relies on a process of Compliance — people comply or else.  A person in a Position of influence can tell someone to do something and, if that doesn’t work, they can force/coerce/incentivize them to do something.  This person also has at her/his disposal Psychological principles: contract, scarcity, consistency/commitment to enhance their power.

From a Participation-oriented approach, a source of influence is Credibility and Attractiveness.  A person who is perceived as credible or attractive relies on a process of Identification — people are influenced because they believe or like the influencer because they can identify with her/him.  A person with perceived Credibility and Attractiveness can move someone by engaging them.  This person also has at her/his disposal Sociological principles: social proof, ingratiation/reciprocity, and scarcity to enhance their power.

Influence and cOMPETING Leadership VAlues

Influence orientation is also related to leadership styles.  Below is an over-simplication of Daniel Goleman’s “Leadership That Gets Results” and Robert Quinn’s Deep Change and Kim Cameron’s and Robert Quinn’s Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture.

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  • Compete Culture
    • Organizational Structure — autonomous individuals
    • Leadership Style: Task Master — focus on the market

      • Pacesetting: a leadership style that involves leading by example in terms of high standards and work load and speed of execution; working harder than anyone else
  • Collaborate Culture — focus on the people

    • Organizational Structure — long-standing committees/teams
    • Leadership Style: Motivator
      • Affiliative: a leadership style that involves the sharing of personal feelings; striving to make people feel happy.
      • Democratic: a leadership style that involves seeking advice from other so solve a problem or meet a challenge; getting feedback in order to make improvements.
  • Create Culture–focus on the future

    • Organizational Structure — temporary/ad hoc teams
    • Leadership Style — Visionary
      • Visionary: a leadership style that focuses on the future and the reasons the group is doing something, while leaving it up to individuals to determine how and what they do.
      • Coaching: a leadership style that involves having personal conversations with individuals to explore their dreams, goals, hopes, and future; helping them identify strengths, develop, and deploy their strengths.
  • Control Culture–focus on the operations system
    • Organizational Structure — Hierarchical
    • Leadership Style — Analyzer
      • Commanding: a leadership style that involves forceful direction in order to get better and quicker results; taking forceful steps to get things done; an even getting angry with the appropriate person at the appropriate time to achieve a goal.


influence and leadership styles and servant leadership

Here’s something else to think about: the power distance between leader and follower is widest in the commanding style and narrower in the democratic and coaching styles.  The distance is narrowest in mentoring style.  There the power distance between leader and follower is are nearly equal.

Influence and Results

What is the impact of the various approaches and their correlational cultures, processes, psychological and sociological principles and leadership styles?  In brief, the Power approaches used in excess break people down — they reduce the level of confidence they have in themselves but they are easy ways to get everyone moving in the same direction — they are convergent in nature.    On the other hand, Positive approaches build  people up but they inspire them to go in other directions — they are divergent in nature.  And yet people can be brought together through the internalization of similar values.

Influence and Servant Leadership

Servant leadership is more closely aligned with the Positive Orientation, because, in short, servant leadership emphasizes authority over power.

  • Power: The ability to force or coerce someone to do your will, even if they would choose not to, because of your position or your might.
  • Authority: The skill of getting people to willingly do your will because of your personal influence (James Hunter, The Servant, p. 30).

Woe to the person with power and no authority, for their influence will be short-lived and only incremental in impact.

What is long-term term and impacting influence based on?  Character: service and sacrifice, love, and wisdom and will to do the right thing.  The right thing is a reflection of the underlying internalization of values within a group.  Those values define what love is.

How does love express itself?  Intimacy.  How is it made manifest?  According to the philosophy of servant leadership, it is seeking to understand the needs of others.   How else?  It may involve being a wounded healer.

But there’s a problem.  No matter how far to the right we go on the curve, entropy pulls us back toward enmity.

Influence and Advanced Change Theory

We can understand influence in terms of two contrasting theories: Normal Change Theory (NCT) and Advanced Change Theory (ACT).

  • NCT corresponds with Power; ACT with Influence
  • NCT corresponds with Theory X assumptions; ACT with Theory Y assumptions.
  • NCT corresponds with Power and Participation; ACT with Positivity
  • NCT corresponds with Power (Compliance), Credibility and Attractiveness (Identification) processes; ACT with integrity (Internalization)
  • NCT corresponds with Compete and Control and Clan cultures; ACT with Adhocracy (Create) culture
  • NCT corresponds with Commanding and Pacesetting, Affiliative, and Democratic styles; ACT with Coaching and Visionary styles
  • NCT corresponds with Power leadership; ACT with authority leadership

The underpinnings of this orientation is “Normal Change Theory” (see table below).

Assumptions, Values, Orientations Normal Change Theory Advanced Change Theory
Action orientation Planning and proposing solutions Enabling emerging processes
Prime barrier to effectiveness Change target inadequacies Change agent hypocrisy
Prime focus of change Alteration of change target Alteration of change agent
Behavioral determinants External sanctions Internal values
Implicit purpose Personal survival of change agent Realization of collective potential
Nature of learning Controlled analysis Discovery at the edge of chaos
Assumed relationship Influence and control the change target Reverence for the freedom of the change target
Modes of influence Rational persuasion and leverage Attraction and inspiration
Change agent behaviors Conventional Paradoxical
Desired outcomes Alter the change target Transformation of self and system

Quinn, Spreitzer, Brown: “Changing Others Through Changing Ourselves”, Journal of Management Inquiry, June 2000, 9, 2.

NCT, ACT and The Three Approaches

NCT corresponds to the Power and Participation influence approaches; ACT corresponds to the Positive influence approach.  Positivity leadership requires a “Fundamental State (or Mind) of Leadership” (see below) and “Moments of Greatness.” The point that can’t be overemphasized is that the source of power in the Positive approach comes not from a position of power or a position of amassed power, but from integrity, of as Gandhi said, being the change you want to see in others.  A person of integrity will rarely use the ends to justify the means, which is why they are people of integrity.

From a Christian perspective, servant leadership — a Positive approach —  requires a different set of assumptions about people and humanity in relationship to God.  We are part of a mustard seed kingdom:  He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches’” (Matthew 13:31-32).

In Robert Quinn’s words, “A small particle introduced into a human system at the right time may disrupt the system in a positive way” (Change the World, p. 2)

Influence and Normal vs. Fundamental States of Leadership

In the Normal State of Leadership

“[We] seek equilibrium.  In the normal state, we are comfort-centered, externally-directed, self-focused, and [externally] closed.  We construct a world of social exchange and economic transaction.  The central purpose of anyone in such a system is to obtain status and resources while avoiding pain and punishment.  When emerging reality threatens our deeply held values by suggesting we need to move into the unknown, we resist.  We become self-deceptive because we say change is needed, yet we want to avoid the risk of losing what we have, so we seek to ‘manage’ change in ways we do not find deeply threatening” (Robert Quinn, Building the Bridge As You Walk Across It, p. 69).

“In the normal state, we typically employ two general strategies of change: Telling, that is, making logical arguments for change and Forcing, that is, using forms of leverage such as threat or firing or ostracizing.  Less often, we use a third strategy, Participating, that is, using open dialogue and pursuing win-win strategies” (p. 69).

Telling: Emphasizing the Technical

The telling strategy is based on the technical (expertise of the speaker) and its goal is to persuade for, or in favor of, the speaker perception of truth.

“The Telling strategy assumes that people are guided by reason.  If others decide it is in their best interest to change, they’ll gladly do so.  Any resistance to change [the perspective assumes] could only be the product of ignorance and superstition” (p. 70).

“The Telling strategy is most effective for situations in which people are not very invested” (p. 70).

“The Telling strategy is not as effective in situations requiring significant behavioral change because it is based on a narrow, cognitive view of human systems” (p. 70).

Forcing: Emphasizing the Political

The Forcing strategy is based on the political (the power of the speaker) and its goal is to enforce something or force someone to do something in favor of the speaker–possibly to preserve her/his point of view or status quo.

“The Forcing strategy seeks to leverage people into changing.  Usually some form of political or economic power is exerted.  Efforts may range from subtle manipulation to physical force.  The Forcing strategy usually evokes anger, resistance, and damage to the fundamental relationship.  Thus, it is not like to result in the kind of voluntary commitment that is necessary for healthy and enthusiastic change…” (p. 71).

“In the normal state, then, we commonly seek to create change by engaging in a two-step process: first, tell others why they need to change; second, if telling fails, figure out how to force them to change” (p. 71).

Here are some strategies to get power (from Pfeffer’s Managing with Power):

Gaining control of needed resources,

Creating allies by making others dependent on you

Being in the right place in the communication network

Developing a reputation for getting things done

Beginning with small wins

Surrounding one’s self with the symbols of power

Utilizing interpersonal techniques such as ingratiating others, etc

Participating: Emphasizing the Interpersonal

The Participating strategy utilizes participating strategies to help people create ideas or complete tasks with each other.  It is a “norming” (converging) activity in that it tends build consensus.

“The Participating strategy involves a more collaborative approach.  This approach recognizes that people are influenced by habits, norms, and institutional policies and culture.  Here the change agent welcomes the input of others, who are seen as equals in the change process.  Instead of trying to make change happen simply by providing information, as in the Telling strategy, the change agent focuses on surfacing, clarifying, and reconstructing people’s values and on resolving hidden conflicts.  The emphasis is on communication and cooperation…” (Robert Quinn, Building the Bridge As You Walk Across It, p. 71).

“Participating strategies and active listening require that each person allows the other to express his or her own truth while insisting that his or her own truth be heard.  The exchange can then give rise to a new and more complex truth” (p. 71).

Here are some metaphors for engaging others (from Bakke’s The Decision Maker):

The Decision Maker

Parenting: “What’s the major thing you and I do as parents?….We try to teach [our children] to make good decisions….You spend your whole life as parents trying to find the right balance between giving advice, correcting mistakes, letting them go, fixing up the bumps and bruises along the way.  All so they can learn to make their own decisions” (Dennis Bakke, The Decision Maker, p. 170).

Coaching: “Tom and Sophia congratulated Jason and followed the flow of the crowd out to the parking lot.  Tom still couldn’t get the look he’d soon on Jason’s face, the moment before he took the shot, out of his head.  It should have been a hard spot to be in: serious pressure, with serious consequences.  So why had Jason looked so happy?…The answer struck him as he was opening the car door for Sophia.  Jason had been happy because he had the ball. For that one moment, he was the only person in the gymnasium who had control over what was about to happen (p. 27)…You don’t see the coaches dribbling up and down the basketball court.  That’s not what they are supposed to do. They choose the players to send in.  And then they stand back and let the players play the game.  You can’t tell a player what to do every single play.  It will ruin the game (p. 28)…People were happiest when they had the ball, when they were in a position to make the decisions that affected their world” (p. 29).

Managing: “Nobody knows everything, and even an expert can benefit from advice.  In a decision-maker culture, the decision-maker makes the final call but must ask for advice.  Whom should the decision-maker approach for advice?” (p. 203)

People who have had experience with this problem

People who are above, at the same level, and below in the hierarchy as well as people outside of the organization who understand it

People directly or indirectly impacted by the decision

People who directly or indirectly have ownership of the decision and will be held accountable for the results (ibid, but loosely paraphrased)

The Fundamental State of Leadership

“The fundamental state of leadership is a temporary psychological condition. When we are in this state, we become more purpose-centered, internally-driven, other-focused, and externally-open” (Robert Quinn, Building the Bridge As You Walk Across It, p. 21).

“We become less comfort-centered and more purpose-centered.  We stop asking, What do I want?…Instead we ask, What result do I want to create?…[That] may attract us outside our comfort zone and into the uncertain journey that is the creative state.  As we begin to pursue purpose in the face of uncertainty, we gain hope and energy” (p. 22).

“[We] also become less externally-directed and more internally-directed….We begin to transcend our own hypocrisy, closing the gap between who we think we are and who we think we should be” (p. 22).

“[We] also become less self-focused and more other-focused.  As our sense of achievement and integrity increases, we feel more secure, less selfish, and more willing to put the common good ahead of the preservation of self” (p. 22).

“[We] become less internally-closed and more externally-open.  When we meet our needs for increased achievement, integrity, and affiliation, we increase our confidence that we can learn our way forward in an uncertain and changing world” (p. 23).

But this type of change does not occur without personal pain.  It will create conflict and chemical reactions within organizations.  The reaction will be like putting new wine in old wine skins.  The stories of Gandhi and King are powerful examples.

Advanced Change Theory suggests an internalization of our values which leads to a change in behavior.  The internalization of values such that they transcend all of our behavior is a deep change — a conversion (paraphrased and adapted from Quinn, Change the World).

Changing oneself requires significant versus incremental change.  Gandhi and MLK became heroes because they succeeded in launching significant social change.  But to do so they had to change themselves first.  Gandhi started his career as a lawyer.  King as a small church parish preacher.

And how did they change?  They became like those they served.  It was living like and marching with their followers.   In biblical terms, they became living sacrifices.

Positive change agents seed movements.  They don’t use force, but appeal to the heart and soul of humanity.  The point to higher values and a higher purpose.  They seek to call forth the special gifts individuals have within themselves.  While the law can be used to treat people like animals, positive change agents treat humans — both those with good and evil intent — with dignity.

Many people have studied how change agents seed movements.  Robert Quinn is one such person.  Here is a paraphrase of his thoughts.

Seeding a Movement

“A small particle introduced into a human system at the right time may disrupt the system in a positive way” (Robert Quinn, Change the World, p. 2).

A first step to seeding a movement is to envision the end.  Some envision “productive community” in which both people and organizations grow and flourish.  It is not a tangible thing as much as it is a state of being.  Jesus in the Sermon on Mount, described a reality different from our present experience.  MLK followed in his footsteps, describing with much charisma a vision from the mountaintop.

Change the World

To put it another way, to start a movement we start with why.  Simon Sinek has authored a powerful book and TEDx talk by the same name: see Start with Why.

start with why

In both his book and TEDx talk Sinek distinguishes between leaders and people who lead.  People who lead, he says, “Act and communicate from the inside out.”  He says people follow us because they believe what we believe.  They don’t follow those who lead because of them but because of themselves.  They follow those who lead because deep down they have internalized the same beliefs.  So deep down we need to know what we believe.

Those who lead are able to connect with the soul of others.  Often times they share the same conscience.

To connect with the conscience of others, we need to know our own conscience.  We need to first look within ourselves and make a choice whether to live in a way that reflects our vision of the world as it should be.  If however, we do not choose those transcendent values, but rather choose our default mode of living and being, or status quo, we choose slow death.  In that state, the only way we will be able to influence others is from the outside, and that is by telling and forcing and faux engagement.  And the only reason we will want to influence others is to protect our livelihood and our ego.

If, on the other hand, we choose to aspire to higher values and live an integrated life, we choose to “walk naked into the land of uncertainty.”  That is because if we choose to live up to “the highest of human values” that reflects our vision for others, we will embrace the hypocrisy between what we believe is right and the way we live our own lives.* That will drive us to make a “fundamental choice.”  If we choose the high road, our changed life will impact others, beginning with those closest to us.

Living according to transcendent values reflected in the highest of human values will be the difference between living in the normal state and the fundamental state of leadership.  Here are some quotes to explain the difference.

Becoming purpose-centered and others-focused requires that we transcend fear, the fears of what the system will do to us if we don’t conform.  I believe Jesus, from the perspective of being fully human, feared the pain and suffering he would endure when he asked His Father, God, to take the cup from him (Luke 22:42).  For others, it may be the fear of failure and loss.

In effect, making a fundamental choice is choosing to be born again.  Within our families and organizations, we become like seeds.  When seeds are planted, they grow roots.  And as they grow, they are impacted by their environment but at the same time force change around them.  Consider this: roots split the ground.  Along with water (that freezes), they can split rock!  But such change takes a long time.  That long struggle to grow is a test of patience and character.

Choice and Strategy

There are times in our lives when we have to choose between slow death and deep change.  If we choose deep change, we become the genesis of deep change world change.  But changing the world from the bottom up takes time, much time.  Ironically, although seeding change seems to be the least effective way to change the world, it is ultimately the most powerful and long lasting of all.

But deep change requires a strategy.  A strategy begins with discerning the nature of the challenge, developing a guiding policy or approach, and deploying a set of coherent actions.  To discern the nature of the challenge we must become like those we wish to serve so that we better understand their needs.  As John Perkins, founder of the Christian Community Development movement, says (in Beyond Charity): “We make their needs our needs.”

Beyond CharityThen the first guiding policy is to be the change we wish to see.

Such change disrupts the system.  First, it disrupts the systems we are part of in seemingly insignificant ways.  But those ways become more significant if we can get others to join in.  How do we do that?  By planting seeds in others.

Planting seeds in others can be implicit or explicit activity.  Implicitly we can plant seeds in others simply by being different — by being role models of courage, holiness, justice, and love (which obviously are not mutually exclusive).  We can also plant seeds by asking these seed questions:

  • Reflect on what is; what is the problem and how is it currently being solved?
  • Envision an alternative — a productive community
  • Look within– are we prepared to live with the consequences if we do nothing?
  • Embrace the hypocritical self
  • Transcend fear and make a choice
  • Develop a strategy and be the change we wish to see — are we living with integrity?
  • Disturb the system and endure the pain (when the system fights back);
  • What influence approaches and leadership styles are appropriate?
  • Surrender to the emergent followers
  • Encourage via moral authority

And, instead of using technical or political methods to force our will on others to get the results we desire, we must continue to challenge and encourage others to do the morally right thing.  But that will only work if we do the morally right thing first — that is we entice others through moral authority (not through positions of power).*  People will follow, then, not because we have political power, but because we have moral authority and a higher purpose, a vision.  The end we are working for is not a tangible thing, per se, but a state of being.  Together, then, we engage in “building a bridge as we walk across it.”

Influence from a Christian Perspective

From a Christian perspective, influence requires a different set of assumptions about people and humanity in relationship to God.  We are part of a mustard seed kingdom:  He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches’” (Matthew 13:31-32).

Servant leadership practices can be seen from a Christian perspective if they reflect the following relationships:

  • Sheep Among Wolves (Matthew 10:16) — “To be a sheep means I don’t lead with how smart or strong or impressive I am” (John, Ortberg, All The Places To Go…How Will You Know?, p. 148), which is the opposite of the way a “wolf” would lead.  “The paradox of Jesus is that vulnerability is stronger than invulnerability [emphasis mine]” (ibid, p. 148), for when we are weak, through Christ we are strong (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10).  Why?  “Part of what Jesus is calling his friends to do is to die to the world’s standards of heroism, success, and glory” (ibid, p. 149).
  • Wise as Serpents (Matthew 10:16) — “Jesus wanted people who were not just devoted to him ‘spiritually’ but who were wide awake and willing to face up to reality and actually thought about strategy and tactics and being effective” [emphasis mine] (ibid, p. 151).
  • Innocent as Doves (Matthew 10:16) — “The main thing Jesus sends into the world is not what we do; it’s who we are.  This, too, is a mark of wholeheartedness [emphasis mine].  What the world needs is not simply isolated outward deeds but transformed character from within [emphasis mine].  That’s what Jesus wants to release to the world” (ibid, p. 157).  In a word: integrity with God, with others, with self.

In short, servant leadership begins and ends with intimacy.  But it involves vulnerability, strategy, and wholeheartedness which results from transformation of character from within.

The Servant

Examples of Servant Leadership
  • Sheep Among Wolves.
    • Be a living sacrifice to be transformed by the renewing of your mind: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2).
    • Be last first; a servant vs. a lord:  “Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘we want you to do for us whatever we ask.What do you want me to do for you?’ he asked. They replied, “’Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.’ ‘You don’t know what you are asking,’ Jesus said. ‘Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”’  ‘We can,”’ they answered.  Jesus said to them, ‘You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.’  When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John.  Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’” (Mark 10:35-45).
    • “[Jesus] changed the world without ever exercising power, only influence….”  He lived in a Jewish society oppressed by the Roman Empire, and butted heads with the religious and political leaders of his day.  “[Jesus] once said, ‘I will draw all men to myself if I be lifted up.’  He was of course describing His sacrifice of being lifted on the cross” (James Hunter, The Servant, p. 80).
    • “Gandhi found himself living in an oppressed country of about a third of a billion people, a virtual slave nation to the British Empire.  Gandhi flatly stated that he would succeed in obtaining independence from England without resorting to violence” (ibid, p. 81).
  • Wise as Serpents.
    • “Gandhi knew he had to draw the world’s attention to India so others could begin to see the injustice of what was happening.  He told his followers they would have to sacrifice as they served the cause of freedom, but through their sacrifice they would begin building influence with those watching throughout the world” (p. 81).
    • “Like Gandhi, [Martin Luther King] believed that by serving the cause through sacrifice and even suffering he could bring attention to the injustices that black people were enduring” (p. 82).
    • Likewise Jesus life and death shed light on injustices….
  • Innocent as Doves: I Corinthians 13.
    • What Love is (I Corinthians 13)
      • “Patience — showing self-control” (James Hunter, The Servant, p. 101).
      • “Kindness — giving attention, appreciation and encouragement” (ibid, p. 103).
      • “Humility — being authentic and without pretense or arrogance” (ibid, p. 110).
      • “Respectfulness — treating others as important people” (ibid, p. 112).
      • “Selflessness — meeting the needs of others” (ibid, p. 116).
      • “Forgiveness — giving up resentment when wronged” (ibid, p. 117).
      • “Honesty — being free from deception” (ibid, p. 118).
      • “Commitment — sticking to your choices” (ibid, p. 119).
    • What holiness is (Lord’s Prayer — Matthew 6:9-13):
      • Doing God’s Will
      • Forgiving others
      • Avoiding temptation
      • We weren’t created to be happy, buy holy.  True happiness (joy) is a bi-product of holiness.

Sometimes things aren’t what we think they are.  Usually there is something we don’t see under the surface.  This is very true regarding people who change the world.

To change the world we think we need power.  Sometimes we do.  We think we need to get power through political means.  The irony is that we can influence others by empowering them.  Even more remarkable: we can influence best by changing ourselves to better meet the needs of others.

Empowering can be more powerful than power.  There is more influence potential in authority than power.

World-changers Gandhi and MLK battled systems led by people with political power by using an opposite approach: they empowered others.  In short, they were transforming leaders, changing themselves and others.  Their internalized values became internalized by others.  Their efforts were fueled by a holy discontent, something about the world they couldn’t stand anymore.

But you don’t have to be a Gandhi or MLK to change the world.  You can be a Matt Rutter or Grace Theisen.

What is our holy discontent and what will we do about it?  In the process, will we be sheep among wolves, wise as serpents, and innocent as doves?  Will we make a difference breaking people down or building them up?

That is some of what we know about influence.

Why does this matter?

How we choose to influence can bring meaningful joy to our lives.

John Ortberg in The Life You Always Wanted claims we are in a state of dis-appointment when we fail to live the live we were appointed by God to live.  We do this when we remove God from the central role in our lives.   Paradoxically, we also do this when we fail to become ourselves.  “We are called by God to live as our uniquely created selves” and we do this best when we “live increasingly as Jesus would in our own unique place — to perceive what Jesus would perceive if he looked through our eyes, to think what he would think, to feel what he would feel, and therefore to do what he would do” (John Ortberg, The Life You Always Wanted, p. 14).

If we strive to influence others the way Jesus did and for the reasons Jesus did, we will find more meaningful joy in our lives.

Notes from Class

Jan 11, 2016

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January 15, 2016

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