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Influence When Things Go Awry

God is in the people business.

Leadership is about moving people, influencing them to enjoy carrying out a shared vision. Leaders understand that people, not process nor policy, are what is most important. They understand that relationship is more important than responsibility. This can easily get lost when projects are at risk or clients are unhappy.

The tendency is to focus on fixing the "apparent" problem. Pressured by the "fierce urgency of now", some leaders ignore what is happening with followers and instead try to satisfy unrealistic productivity goals or financial targets. They might gain temporary success, but the lurking lion of broken, confused, or ill-prepared followers remains. Leaders need to shift focus to the people on their team.

When Adam ate of the tree in Genesis 3, God did not immediately deal with the "apparent" problem: Adam's willful disobedience. There was something more important to God than Adam's sin; it was Adam. So, God begins a dialogue with Adam that resulted in four questions that leaders can learn from and employ:

  1. Where are you? (what's happening with the person right now?)
  2. Who told you? (Where are you getting your information and how did you come to your conclusions?)
  3. Have you eaten of the tree? (Are you behaving within our shared values?)
  4. What have you done? (Let's talk about what you did.)
These are the same four questions which godly leaders might ask of people when things have gone awry.
The godly leader, becoming like God, helps people get to the root of failure/mistakes with these questions. By focusing more on people than the "apparent problem", the leader helps people self-discover and increases his/her influence in their lives. And it is this influence that enables the leader to help people improve performance.
Ask yourself these questions during the next crises in your organization.
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