Influence vs. Control

Jesus knew on the evening of Passover Day that it would be his last night on earth before returning to his Father. During supper the devil had already suggested to Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, that this was the night to carry out his plan to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. And how he loved his disciples!  So, he got up from the supper table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his loins, poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he had around him.     John 13:1-5

I have spoken to groups about leadership principles over the years, and one of the topics I discuss is the idea of influence vs. control. The role of leadership I contend, has much more to do with influencing others rather than controlling them. Even in our personal relationships, I recognize that I can have a certain amount of influence, gained over time, by consistent caring behavior, and an adherence to principles. I likely will not change another’s mind by forcing my will upon them.

Influential leaders call people to a higher level of performance and personal expectations. Trying to control behaviors often ends up in resentment and “pseudo-compliance”. Controllers want conformity to standards. That is not a bad thing since organizations need a certain level of compliance to meet organizational goals. The nuance is, how does the person being led respond? Are they resentful and bitter, or do they see that they are valued by the leader?

Influencers, on the other hand, can lead by bringing out the best in those they lead, and thereby attain goals while showing respect to those they lead. Influencers inspire others. Controllers… well they control the behavior of others.   

My point is simply this. Good leaders can inspire others by example, and by basic respect of others. Jesus led others by serving them.

What an awesome example of leadership!

Prayer: Jesus, you have shown how loving others is the best possible way to lead, Amen

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