Leading in an Influencer Culture
Leader vs InfluencerThe term influencer has recently rose to fame (over the last decade) via many social media platforms, to the point that the title of “social media influencer” is a status that many people seek to attain. An influencer in today’s culture can be defined as:
- the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others because of his or her authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with his or her audience.
- a following in a distinct niche, with whom he or she actively engages.It is important to note that these individuals are not merely marketing tools, but rather social relationships with which brands can collaborate with to achieve their marketing goals and objectives.The word leader comes from the Old English word ‘lædan’ meaning ‘to go before as a guide’. It was first used in English in the 14th century to describe a person in charge. This term has been with us for a while and it can be defined differently in different contexts the but the essence of the word remains the same:
- Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.
- Leadership is the act of influencing and serving others out of Christ’s interests in their lives so they accomplish God’s purposes for and through them.
- “Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less” – John MaxwellLet’s compare and contrast leader and influencer (20 marks) – hopefully this question didn’t trigger memories of your school days.
The word ‘leader’ has been used long before the term ‘influencer’ emerged. We know leaders as people with stamina and charisma, who can impact others and motivate them. On the other hand, we’ve started reading about influencers on social media and in news articles, and the assumption can be made that an “influencer” is the new leader, hence why the two words are often used interchangeably.
Leaders can influence other people’s decisions, while influencers can lead with their influence. The fundamental difference between leaders and influencers lies in the way they use their power over people. Leaders strive to empower and motivate. Leaders seek ways to set goals and explain the means while helping persons to believe in themselves. Leadership calls for action and aligns with a person’s core values. On the other hand, influencers do not primarily empower. Just like marketers, authors, and writers, they influence people in a values-neutral way. This means that they can influence in spite of their personal beliefs, attitudes, or core values.
Influencers have influence, but they cannot lead people towards fundamental changes unless they have been given the power to do so. Influencers are a product of social media; however, leaders exist everywhere. This includes social media, many business spheres, organizations of all kinds and in real life. They have professions where they can impact communities and promote changes among persons, conduct online webinars or live. Ideally, they may not collaborate with many brands but they say only those things they truly believe in.
What makes a good leader? “A good leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” Irrespective of how you define a leader, he or she can prove to be a difference maker between success and failure. A good leader has a futuristic vision and knows how to turn his or her ideas into real-world success stories. In this article, I’ll explore four characteristics of good leaders and how they can leave a lasting impact.LEADERS ARE LEDLeadership starts with you. Yes, you. In order to lead well you must know what it takes to be a good leader. I’ve heard the question of, “are leaders born or made?” asked so many times over the span of my life and I’d dare to say that they are both. The characteristics of being a good leader can come very natural to some persons, and to others, a bit for study, research and learning about leadership may be required. With both questions being answered I do believe that leadership is something we can learn to do well and the ability to lead well can grow with knowledge and experiences over a period of time.
If you’re desirous of learning how to lead well, listening and talking to other leaders while gleaning from their experiences can benefit you greatly. The main essence of what is being spoken about here is mentorship. Mentorship can be defined as the influence, guidance, or direction given by a mentor. This is a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. The mentor may be older or younger than the person being mentored but they must have a certain measure of expertise in that specific area.
If you want to lead, you need to demonstrate your ability to be inspired and led by somebody other than yourself, who challenges your status quo, your vision, your strategies, your relationships, your ego, your humility and your teachability. Allowing yourself to be led as a leader conveys that you’ve taken responsibility to lead others more effectively by allowing yourself to be challenged by the truth about where your leadership needs to improve and to lift your leadership lid. As you consistently lift the lid of your leadership, the lid of your team will also be lifted as well.
LEADERS SERVE THEIR TEAMSAs a leader, one of your core responsibilities is to serve. This can look like focusing on the needs of others (especially team members) before considering your own. Good leaders acknowledge other people’s perspectives, give team members the support they need to meet their work and personal goals, involve them in decisions where appropriate and build comradery and community within their teams. This leads to higher engagement, more trust, and stronger relationships with team members and other stakeholders which can eventually lead to increased innovation.
Leadership at its core is about sacrifice. It will propel you to do things that feel uncomfortable at times or do things you really don’t feel compelled to do. These hard decisions can often contribute to the growth of your team members and for yourself personally. Jesus was able to lead His disciples well because He served them. They had no clue what the journey would require of their time, resources or personal lives but at every step of the way, he was able to give direction, foster relationships and serve them throughout the entire process.
Leadership is less about you and more about serving those you lead. One of the ways you can serve your team is to ask questions. Asking questions gives you an idea of where your team is at, areas that can be improved and provide guidelines on the things as a leader you may need to pay more attention to. A good team is able to find those loop holes that a leader may miss and be a pillar of support to ensure that the entire team succeeds.
“How can I serve the persons that I lead better?”
I had the privilege of asking a group of persons this question recently and these were some of their responses.
- To be constantly challenged.
- To be corrected when I’m wrong.
- To have your honest opinion.
- For the vision to be made clear.
- To know that you as the leader and the team have my back.
- To be challenged creatively in what I do.
- Do more exercises that will help to build confidence in what I’m doing.
- Have more socials and build more relationships among team members.
Some of these points took be by surprise and others I knew that there was work that needed to be done. These things will differ with every team, but at the end of the day, allow God to give clear direction on how you should lead and steward your teams well. Also, it’s also important to be sensitive to the needs of your team members and have a relationship with them to see how you can assist with their growth in an effort to attain their highest potential.
LEADERS PRODUCE GOOD FRUITWho/What feeds you?
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. – Luke 6:43-45
Luke 6:43-45 here speaks to a few things:
- The type of fruit that a specific tree produces.
- What the mouth speaks is an indicator to what is in the heart.What is it that directly influences these things?
- The persons who surround us.
- The content we consume.
- The voices we entertain.
- How we view the persons we lead.
- How we view ourselves.All of these will help to inform the types of fruit we are presently producing or will produce in the future. In order to impact and inspire our teams to reach their God given potential we must ensure that the soil of our hearts is pliable in the hands of God so that He can cultivate us as leaders into those good trees that can bear good fruit.
Leadership can sometimes be frustrating due to the challenges that come with interacting with different people, personality types, solving problems under immense pressure or making sure that the entire team is covered in the instance that something goes sideways. Negative emotions and interactions can often times be a by-product of dealing with situations of this caliber but we must remember to take a moment, gather ourselves and keep forging ahead on the journey with a good attitude.
One of the ways we can know what our hearts are full of is by considering the fruit we’re currently producing (Gal 5:22-23). If our fruit doesn’t resemble the fruit of the Spirit, we can be certain that something may be off and some personal evaluation and introspection may be necessary. Conversely, if there is clear evidence that we are displaying the fruit of the Spirit, we can have some assurance that we are well on our way. If you fix the root, the fruit will sort itself out.
LEADERS CREATE GOOD CULTURE
As leaders, it can become easy move on to the next project or task before celebrating our successes and achievements, especially the small wins. Celebration honors the work that has been done and shows gratitude to the people who do it. By celebrating success, leaders reinforce the motivation that will carry their teams through the next achievement. This is important for you as a leader and for those persons you lead. Leaders should take the time to step back and evaluate the effort that went into achieving that big success or even a modest win.
These celebrations are most beneficial in the context of relationships and community. Relationships are the heart of every team. Just as a healthy heart circulates blood throughout the body, life-giving relationships create teams that will go the extra mile to ensure the goal or vision is accomplished. It may be difficult and have its own challenges but with a team of like-minded individuals knowing that they can lean on each other, anything can be achieved.
If leaders desire for their teams to encourage and celebrate each other leaders must start by actively encouraging and celebrating their team members. To stimulate excitement among the team, it must be first modeled by the leader. If leaders don’t believe encouragement is important, and actively practice these principles, team members will find it difficult to model this behavior due to the culture that has been created by the leader.
CONCLUSIONLeadership and influence are symbiotic siblings, but leaders and influencers are not the same. They are motivated by different things and they strive to impact people in different ways.Influencers are values-neutral, whereas, leaders inspire people with ideas and promises, both online and in real life. They are often inspired by a single idea and look for ways to deliver this idea to people. They add value by sharing their thoughts and opinions, inspiring others along the way.True leaders strive to make a positive change, which is a more stable and long-lasting compared to influence alone. Therefore, a true leader will seek ways to impact the lives of persons through building relationships, setting goals for their teams and making significant contributions towards their individual growth.
Leaders are self-actualized individuals who are aware of their strengths, their limitations, and their emotions. They also show their real selves to their followers. They do not act one way in private and another in public; they don’t hide their mistakes or weaknesses out of fear of looking weak. They are not afraid to show their emotions, their vulnerability and to connect with their team members. In fact, communicating in a direct manner is critical to successful outcomes, but should always be done with empathy; directness without empathy is cruel.
And last but certainly not least, LEADERS LEAD!
How are you leading in this influencer culture?
About the Writer:Christopher Millar is a young multi-talented individual who is passionate about people, good design, good music and the things of God. He is a husband, foodie, UI/UX designer, web developer, podcast co-host over at The Millar Mix and the founder of List It Caribbean. He is passionate about empowering persons to walk in their God given purpose and ensuring that there can be laughter and joy at every step of the process.