Leading with Control OR Leading with Influence

by | Oct 31, 2022 | Church Health, Church Leadership

Would you rather lead with influence or control?

Hopefully, the answer comes easily, but regardless of the answer, it doesn’t always play out that way for many leaders.

Let me be honest. I can be a controlling person. It’s part of my character. My StrengthsFinders assessment says so. If no one is taking charge, I’ll take over the room.

Also, if we come to a four-way stop at the same time – as nice as I try to be – I won’t stall long for you to decide if you’re going.

 

If no leader is in the room, I’ll lead.

 

I think my team, however, would tell you I don’t normally perform as a controlling leader. Consequently, some may even wish I controlled more. Yet, it’s been a long process to discipline myself not to respond how I am naturally inclined to do.

 

Leaders, if you want to a healthy team environment, you must learn to control less and influence more.

 

The differences are measured in the results.

Therefore, I have learned that successful leaders understand the difference in leading with influence and with control.

Here are a few examples:

 

In an organization where control is dominant:

 

  • The leader’s ideas win over the team’s ideas – every time.
  • Teams follow, but only out of necessity (for a paycheck) – not willingly.
  • Change happens through fear and intimidation – not motivation.
  • People are managed closely – rather than led.
  • Team members often feel unappreciated and often under-utilized – rather than empowered.
  • The organization is limited to the skills and abilities of the controlling leader – not the strength of a team.
  • Passion is weak – burnout is common.

 

In an organization where influence is dominant:

 

  • The ultimate goal is what’s best for the organization, not an individual.
  • Team spirit develops as relationships and trust grow.
  • Willing followers, and other leaders, are attracted to the team.
  • Leadership recruitment and development is a continual endeavor.
  • Change is promoted through desire and motivation, not obligation.
  • The organization has the expanded resources through a team of unique individuals.
  • People feel empowered and appreciated.

 

Leaders, take your pick – control or influence.

 

You can’t have it both ways. One will always be dominant. Granted, I could write a whole blog post (and, I have) on the messiness of leading by influence. Also, there will often be confusion, lack of clarity, and misunderstandings. It comes when all the rules aren’t clearly defined. This, however, is a tension to be managed not a problem to be solved. (I think Andy Stanley said that first.)

When it comes to creating organizational health – influence will always trump control. Every time.

Have you ever been or worked for a controlling leader?

Likewise, have you been in an environment where influence is dominant?

Check out my leadership podcast where we discuss issues of leadership in a practical way. Plus, check out the other Lifeway Leadership Podcasts.

 

Read More Blog Posts by Ron Edmondson

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Ron Edmondson

I am CEO of Leadership Network. I was previously pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church, a church leader and the planter of two churches. I am passionate about planting churches but also helping established churches thrive. I love assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy, and life. My specialty is organizational leadership, so in addition to my role as a pastor, as I have time, I consult with church and ministry leaders. I have more than 35 years of leadership experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and have been in full-time ministry for over 15 years. I have successfully led the restart of one church and the planting of two churches, and now we are seeing God’s hand tremendously in church revitalization. I have a seminary masters and a master’s in organizational leadership. I also once helped lead (as an elected official) a mid-sized city, where I served as Vice Mayor and Finance Chair. The greatest times for me are with my wife Cheryl and our amazing adult sons, Jeremy, his wife Mary, and our youngest son Nate. Over 20 years ago, I founded a non-profit ministry called Mustard Seed Ministry, which provides devotional resources, conducts family, marriage, and parenting, and church leadership seminars. My INTJ personality on the Myers-Briggs indicator means I have big ideas, I love creative and critical thinking and I love to see progress. I am usually around people but crave downtime. For years I was usually training for either a half or full marathon. Running was my most productive thinking time. Knee problems in recent years have caused me to stop running, but I’m committed to finding the time I need to fuel my mind, body, and spirit. I write several times weekly on leadership, church, and family. To sign up for my blog on a reader or by email, click HERE. I do interact with my readers, so feel free to contact me. You can email me at ron.edmondson@gmail.com.I am also on Google+ at http://www.gplus.to/ronedmondson, Twitter at www.twitter.com/ronedmondson and Facebook at www.facebook.com/ronaedmondson. My devotional site is www.mustardseedministry.com