Friday, 28 February 2014

Leadership- persuasion and influence

Lately I have been doing a short course on Leadership through Open2Study. As an aside Open2Study is a great way to start thinking about a range of topics, I am becoming a wee bit of a fan of MOOCs.
As part of my learning I have had the opportunity to explore and reflect on leadership. One of the questions we were asked was what were some of the behaviours of leaders who have influenced you that made them persuasive. Now I am privileged to have had more than one really great leader to reflect on and so this was the list I came up with:
  • they were clear about what they were there for
  • they listened to the group- created opportunities for people to share 
  • they made the final decision
  • they kept people informed and aware of varying influences but not overwhelmed with it
  • they knew their people and ensured that those who had influence within the group were well informed to ensure communications were consistent 
  • they took the big hits- protected their team
  • they shared the glory and celebrated success
  • they were available to those they were leading so issues or concerns could be discussed privately or as a group 
  • they were well informed and constantly improving their own knowledge and understanding and shared new learnings 
  • they were good at identifying people's strengths and utilised them well 
  • they grew people, encouraged them to flourish 
This is by no means an exhaustive list, for example I haven't considered their engagement with the external environment. I know that at first glance some items may not immediately relate to persuasion but my thinking is that these qualities allowed them to be persuasive as they created trust and loyalty from the team. 

In the past I have seen influence/persuasion in leadership as sometimes manipulation of a position of power. But power is not necessarily a bad thing... there is a Maori whakatauki that goes like this: E kore te totara e tu noa ke te parae engari me tu ki roto i te wao. The totara is not found growing in open country but only in the heart of the forest. I believe this alludes to a leader being found with their people, surrounded and supported by them to grow strong, therefore the leader finds power from the group in order to lead the group. I guess that it is a symbiotic relationship- the leader provides guidance and collective vision and the group provides support and confidence to enable the leader to do just that. 

Leadership opportunities are to be found in many places- whanau (family), in a classroom, in a sports team, social groups, playcentre, at all levels of organisations and businesses and so many more... that being the case, who we are as a leader is well worth considering. 

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