Taking the Lead



Leadership is Influence - Influential Leadership

  • This primary topic of this course is Leadership. Does everyone have leadership potential? Should everyone be a leader?
  • The answer to that question might surprise you. One of the most recognized experts on leadership, author, speaker and leadership consultant, Dr. John Maxwell’s has been studying leadership his entire life. More than four decades of research and leadership consulting has led him to the following primary conclusion: Leadership is Influence. Nothing more. Nothing less.
  • Everyone has influence, whether they intentionally and strategically utilize it or not. According to Dr. Maxwell, this means that everyone possesses the capacity, and the responsibility for being the best influential leader that they can be.
  • Becoming the best influential leader you can be requires assessing and developing what we call your Influential Leadership. We believe that every single person is a unique, one of a kind Masterpiece, with significant potential for Influential Leadership, which is all about changing the world around them, one relationship at a time.


The Five Practices and 10 Skills of Influential Leadership

These Practices and Skills of Influential Leadership are being described in Foundation Order. This means, we list them from the bottom of the foundation to the top. The first Influential Leadership Skill we list is the base of the foundation, and every successive Influential Leadership Skill is built upon the ones that are underneath it.

We will describe the Influential Leaderships Skills first, then the Practices, because each of the Practices is closely tied to two Influential Skills that operate together as synergistic pairs.

Following are the 10 Influential Leadership Skills listed in Foundation Order:

  • Self Leadership: Leading yourself intentionally and consistently well.
  • Hard Work: Leveraging good stress, reducing harmful stress
  • Personal Openness: Giving your true, authentic self to others.
  • Role Modeling: Progress not Perfection
  • Gentle Spirit: The incredible power of gentleness.
  • Loving Affection: Intentional, Positive, Deeply Personal Connection
  • Effective Communication: Prioritizing common language, understanding and purpose
  • Caring Confrontation: Properly balancing tough love and tender love
  • Servant Leadership: Putting the needs of others before your own
  • Team Orientation: Promoting, building and fostering authentic community

In this section each of the Five Practices will be described along with their associated attributes. The following is a definition of each of the associated attributes:

  • Influential Leadership Skills: The two synergistic Influential Leadership Skills that must be developed together for successful development of the Practice
  • Tensions: For this course, each Influential Leadership Skill has its own unique tension that needs to be successfully balanced.

Following are the description of each of the Five Practices, listed in Foundation Order:

  • Foundation Building: One of our primary principles of transformation is Live It to Give It. We can only Give what we actually Live. Giving well requires living well , and living well is difficult, and requires intentional, directed effort.
    • Influential Leadership Skill: Self Leadership - The Foundation for Influence
      • The shortest definition of Self Leadership we can articulate is loving yourself well, which requires a proactive commitment to healthy, holistic living, internally and externally.
      • Tension: Our Role versus The Role of a Power Greater than Ourselves
      • While we can only fully control ourselves, we are dependent to some extent to forces outside of ourselves, that we have much less, if any, control over.
      • The reality is, we need to balance self-reliance, and reliance on forces outside of ourselves - powers within ourselves versus powers outside of ourselves. Having one or more external sources of power we can depend on is prudent.
    • Synergistic Influential Skill: Hard Work - Leveraging Good Stress
      • Stress is neutral and we choose whether it turns into eustress (good stress) or distress (bad stress) by our thoughts, attitudes, speech, and actions. We need to develop habits that naturally convert stresses in our lives to eustress. Some of these habits will be related to our thoughts, attitudes, and speech - other habits will be more focused on actions.
      • Tension: Working Hard versus Healthy Margin
      • Think about the ends of this tension as complementary instead of opposites. The more rested and healthy we are, the harder we can work. And the harder we work, the more time we need to invest in creating and maintaining a holistic life.
      • In order to be the best steward of our vocations, we need to work hard to maintain dynamic balance between our vocationa lives and all other aspects of our lives. Letting the non-vocational aspects of our lives slip might work over the short-term, but the long-term results will be disastrous.
  • Open Posture: The word posture can be defined as both an inward, mental attitude and as an outward, behavioral attitude. Open Posture invites in opportunities to influence others, as well as opportunities for inward development of ourselves.
    • Influential Leadership Skill: Personal Openness - Giving your true, authentic self to others.
      • In order to put off negative traits and put on positive traits, we need to be continually developing transparency, vulnerability and accountability with authentic, trusted friends. We have to be open to constructive feedback so we can get better.
      • Tension: Developing our Life versus Giving our Life
      • Giving our lives to other people is critical; but surprisingly, we also need to be continually developing our lives - so when we give our lives, we are giving the best version of our lives we can give.
      • A big part of developing our lives is developing a sense of transparency, vulnerability, and accountability with authentic friends. We need to be sure of our strengths, develop our weaknesses and identify our blind spots.
    • Synergistic Influential Skill: Role Modeling: Progress not Perfection
      • Striving for perfection is a recipe for discouragement. If we expect daily progress, and not perfection, we will be able to use our daily failures and struggles as motivation to both encourage others dealing with similar issues, and to continually develop ourselves.
      • Tension: Faultless Living <-> Daily Repentance
      • This tension is very subtle. The fact is, we will never be perfect. However, we cannot allow that fact to prevent us from striving to learn from our mistakes and continually get better.
      • Repentance becomes even more important when our heart’s desire is to live a faultless life. Repentance allows us to channel the emotions around our failures into developing ourselves instead of destructive, negative self-talk.
  • Compassionate Attitude: The word compassionate means feeling empathy and showing concern for others. Empathy can be defined as suffering-with another person. When we express a Compassionate Attitude, we are able to feel within ourselves what other people are actually feeling in the moment.
    • Influential Leadership Skill: Gentle Spirit - Identifying and meeting needs, being tender, patient and giving time
      • Gentleness is strong, effective, confident and decisive. Gentleness allows us to both affirm the strengths we see in others while at the same time being able to constructive highlight any weaknesses we see in others as well.
      • Tension: Truth versus Sensitivity
      • If we focus too much on what truth needs to be delivered, we may deliver the truth in an ineffective manner that causes the recipient to become defensive. If we focus too much on an effective delivery, we might water down, or misrepresent the truth.
      • The harmony or point of balance between the two is dynamic—it completely depends on the specific person, the specific circumstances, and the specific truth. Context is everything.
    • Synergistic Influential Skill: Loving Affection: Intentional, positive, deeply personal connection.
      • Loving Affection requires that we cultivate our emotional intelligence. In other words, we strive to discern the best possible response in each and every situation we find ourselves in.
      • Tension: Affection <-> Tough Love
      • Sometimes loving others well sometimes means giving a serious rebuke. Other times, loving others well requires an affectionate embrace and kind words, and still other times a mixture of both at once.
  • Loving People: Loving People well requires providing what someone needs, not necessarily what they want, exactly when they need it. This will always require effective communication and will sometimes require caring confrontation.
    • Influential Leadership Skill: Effective Communication - Prioritizing common language, understanding and purpose.
      • Effective Communication is all about being intentional about how we speak, and deliberate in how we listen. Effective Communication always includes listening, nonverbal communication and the two-way communication of emotions
      • Tension: Speaking Intentionally versus Listening Attentively
      • We need great discernment when we are speaking to people - what words are necessary, uplifting, and will be fully understood by the person receiving them.
      • Listening attentively requires welcoming and empathetic posture and body language. Listening requires speaking: summarizing, mirroring and asking clarifying questions.
    • Synergistic Influential Skill: Caring Confrontation: Properly balancing tough love and tender love.
      • Confrontation becomes uplifting and valuable when the person being confronted is deeply loved, and the desired result is the growth and development of that person.
      • We are to confront individuals privately, personally, prayerfully, patiently, passionately, positively, practically and progressively
      • Tension: Tenderness <-> Toughness
      • Caring Confrontation requires a delicate mix of tenderness and toughness that is unique to each person and each particular situation.
      • Achieving a harmonious, dynamic balance in this tension requires internal reflection and intentional dialogue with trusted, authentic friends.
  • Difference Making: Taking the Lead is all about influence. Influence is about making a positive difference in the lives of people we know and care about. The people interacting with us should be made better, or transformed in some way because of that interaction.
    • Influential Leadership Skill: Servant Leadership - giving of ourselves and being humble.
      • We should give of ourselves voluntarily, generously and sacrificially.
      • True humility requires both brokenness and confidence in dynamic, harmonious balance.
      • Tension: Staying Broken versus Leveraging our Masterpiece
      • Brokenness requires us to uncover our blind spots develop our weaknesses.
      • On the other end of the tension, we have to have confidence that we can unleash our unique, one-of-a-kind Masterpiece despite our blind spots and weaknesses. Our whole person is more than enough to change the world around us.
    • Synergistic Influential Skill: Team Orientation: Building real community.
      • We need to develop the harmony of interdependence between ourselves and others. We need others, and others need us. At the same time, we need to lead ourselves well.
      • Tension: Self Sufficiency versus Dependence on Others
      • We need good self-leadership, and at the same time, we desperately need others. Being in a relationship should be an ongoing win-win for everyone.
      • This tension also includes an underlying tension between creating the free-time needed to develop more casual relationships and investing in our deeper relationships.


The Taking the Lead Assessment

  • The Taking the Lead course has been designed to assess the current state of our Influential Leadership, and equip us with the tools necessary to shore up the areas that need the most investment right now.
  • Regularly assessing our levels of Influential Leadership in each on of the Five Practices and 10 Skills of Influential Leadership is important because where we need to focus might change from time to time for the following reasons:
    • Developing our Influential Leadership is a life-long process. As we make progress by focusing on our weakest areas, those areas become stronger. At the same time, areas that were stronger before we shifted our focus can become weaker.
    • Additionally, because of our hard-wiring, and our life experiences, we may be consistently vulnerable to issues in certain areas and will not ongoing investment in those areas.
  • The Taking the Lead assessment is typically taken the first time before you begin the Taking the Lead course, and then repeated every 6-12 months as you continuously put effort into developing your influential leadership.