I’ve often heard people say they can’t lead because the people they need to influence or direct do not report to them. This assertion is rarely challenged but it should be.

John Maxwell, author of a number of books on leadership, is a minister. He makes an important point – if you can lead a congregation, you really have leadership talent because the people you are leading are volunteers! A few staff people may report to you but essentially you are leading a, forgive the word, flock. Many executives refer to “herding cats.” Different words for the same process. I think of John Maxwell often when I hear people complain about a lack of authority undermining their ability to lead. Authority can be helpful but even if you have it, it better not be the only asset you possess.

If you need to get things done but don’t have the “hammer” what can you do?

1. Paint a picture of the future that includes those you seek to influence. Show others how they can be successful and fulfilled by pursuing the vision.

2. Enthusiastically affirm the right behaviors, judgments and actions. Results matter, of course, but so do the right actions that lead to success. Encourage, teach, direct, as well as correct.

3. Hold people accountable to shared goals-not just to you. Be public about what others are delivering and how they relate to the overall goals. Get over the notion that you are “calling people out” – you are just reporting progress or lack thereof.

4. Stop whining. People do not want to follow those who whine or are cynical.

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