“As a leader, if you don’t have influence with people, then you’re a dictator.” An article I found comparing different aspects of power versus influence, introduced this thought to me and I think that it is a very good way of thinking about power and influence. While power and influence are both needed, sometimes it is very easy to misuse our power and in turn make it impossible to influence others. While reading this chapter, I almost immediately thought of residence life at Greenville College.
Coming into college, students are at a very vulnerable place in their lives and a lot of growth can come out of this. However, if not given the right circumstances to allow this growth, they will just feel belittled and shut down. Resident Chaplains at GC hold a very significant place in the lives of many people, whether they are aware of it or not. I know of many students who came into college with open minds and hearts, but left a little more hardened than when they came because of something their RC did. While we are a Christian college with a lifestyle statement, I believe that RCs should use their influence for the better and show mercy and grace just as Christ would. As our book, The Geek Leader’s Handbook, says, “influence is the ability to affect another person’s inner state – what they think, feel, and believe.” RCs should remember that they are in a place of much influence to others and to respond to situations as Jesus would. Instead, most of my friends have had situations where RCs used and abused their place of power, “the ability to affect another person’s observable behavior.”
The same principle applies to professional workplaces. There have been times that I worked in retail stores under managers who would guilt me into buying things so we could make our sales goals for the hour or the day. In fact, back when I was too young to even be considered for a credit card, my manager would make me apply so that the store would look like we were getting more store credit card applications than we actually were. At the time, I knew this probably was not good but I also was not in a place where I could say anything or know what she was telling me to do. I do believe that some suits have trouble influencing the people around them, but in my experience, I have had both managers who used their power and influence well and others that just abused by naivety.
This video, within the first three minutes, gives a great breakdown of what power, authority, leadership, and influence mean and how each differ from one another using very tangible examples. This is a lesson any person in power, authoritative, leadership, or influential positions should learn. If I had an account with this website, I could finish the video where it speaks on how all compare and contrast, but I don’t. Still though, the real world examples in the beginning allowed me to better understand what each mean and differentiate them from one another.
Someday I hope to be in a position of power where I have the ability to influence those around me for the better. In this, I want to remember right versus wrong and how I felt when my superiors blurred those lines. As Christians in the professional business workplace, we have an opportunity and calling to hold ourselves to higher standards. I think this begins when we choose to treat people with respect and love when we are put in positions that could easily take advantage of others.