Leadership Lesson: Leadership is about Influence

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

steele-and-limbaugh
Photo by Livesteez
 
 
I don’t know how many of you have been keeping up with the news, but the situation with the Republican Party’s Chairman, Michael Steele and talk radio host Rush Limbaugh is good material for lessons on leadership.

In the wake of Michael Steele’s interview by CNN’s D.L. Hughley, Steele tried to make it clear that he, not Limbaugh, was in charge of the Republican party. This response came as top-level Democrats are trying to portray Rush Limbaugh as the “leader” of the GOP.

First of all, when you have to tell people that you are the leader, then you are not really “being” the leader. Too often people think leadership is about positions, but in reality it is all about influence. In my experience with leadership, I have realized that there are people who do not have positions of leadership but they are the ones who are really leading; and there are people who do have the positions of leadership but they are not the ones who are leading anything.

This brings up a tension which I have seen many times before – either the positional leader will feel threatened and then try to exert more control or the person with the real influence will feel frustrated and leave that situation.

This is why positional leadership is the lowest form of leadership because once the title is gone the person is no longer “leading.” The highest form of leadership is when you are able to attract and lead other leaders (leaders of leaders, so to speak).

The situation with Steele and Limbaugh has been political fodder in the last few days. In fact some of the Democrats have made a website entitled, “I’m Sorry, Rush,” where people can make their own sarcastic apology to Rush Limbaugh.

So the question remains, “Who is leading the Republican Party?” Is it the person, with well over 13 million listeners or a person who has the position of Republican National Committee Chairman?