While standing in my friend’s kitchen where she was making oatmeal, I was immediately transported back to my grandmother’s home where every morning of my summer visits, she would make the best oatmeal on the planet. Loaded with real cream and brown sugar, she would place the bowl in front of me making me feel special and loved. Once again, I was feeling that same sense of comfort and love.
The aroma of oatmeal that evoked a powerful emotional response in me is much like the fragrance of influence. Leadership influence, the effect of one person on another, has the power to shape the destiny of others. Let’s look at two leaders who wield their influence differently; one leaving a sweet fragrance and one leaving a putrid stench.
Negative Influence Yields a Putrid Stench
Tension filled the air as the team waited for Dana, the Director of Women’s Ministry, to enter the conference room. After two years, Dana struggled to garner the respect of her team. Four members resigned. The remaining women were on the brink of leaving. Her influence impacted her team negatively because of the following:
- Tasks Trump Relationships – Dana expected her team to execute her vision before she invested in building relationships. Consequently, her team did not have “buy in,” and felt they were being used.
- Hoards Ministry – Dana rarely gave projects to her team and micromanaged the process leaving them feeling undervalued and inadequate.
- Pride – Developing a superstar complex, Dana’s identity was embedded in performance. If her team members brought a concerns to her attention, she took it personally, accusing them of sabotaging the ministry. Pride kept Dana from recognizing her weaknesses and submitting herself to spiritual oversight.
Positive Influence Yields a Sweet Aroma
Lisa and her team celebrated yet another successful fundraiser to combat women’s heart disease. For the seventh year in a row, Lisa ended each fundraising season with a dinner to honor her team, thanking each person with a gift of appreciation. At the end of every celebratory dinner, the same team signs up for next year’s fundraiser with one stipulation: that Lisa leads the committee. Lisa’s influence positively impacted her team because of the following:
- Grace-filled – Lisa’s leadership style is based on Philippians 2:3-4 (NLT) “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Lisa intentionally invested in making relationships with each member of her team; asking about their dreams, passions, and vision for their future. Feeling valued and affirmed, each team member wanted to execute Lisa’s vision for the fundraiser.
- Generosity – Lisa gave ministry away. When she saw potential in others she would give them opportunities to flex their leadership muscles and spearhead a project.
- Authentic – Lisa didn’t pretend to know all the answers. She understood her weaknesses and managed them by humbly submitting herself to accountability partners.
Those of us in leadership can see ourselves both in Dana and Lisa, but to what degree will determine the fragrance we leave in the lives of the people we influence.