Leadership is Dead

How Influence is Reviving It


Jeremie Kubicek

Howard Books, 2011, 217 pp.  ISBN 978-1-4516-1214-1


"The key to effective leadership is learning how to influence in a way that engenders greater trust, stronger partnerships, and more impactful endeavors."  To do this "you must break down your walls of self-preservation and sacrifice your security for the sake of others.  Only then does the escalating paradox of personal generosity come into play: The more you give, the more you receive." (from the flyleaf)  Describes some good leaders.  Kubicek is president and CEO of GiANT Impact, a global leadership company. 


Summary:  "Leadership is about influence.  Influence is power.  And how you use that power will affect your world and those around you.  Will you choose to empower or overpower?  To liberate or dominate?" (181)


Leadership is dead because too many leaders have abused their positions, lost their moral compass, abandoned long-term responsibility, and sold out for short-term gains and skyrocketing salaries. 


"You don't need massive power or a prominent position to lead positive change in an organization.  You need only influence: the most potent and underutilized professional resource on the planet. … Te be influential requires that we shed the fears and self-preservation instincts that hold us back." (23)  Today's leaders must be willing to sacrifice their own security to inspire others.  "The greatest strategy for business success and personal fulfillment is not based upon getting all you can.  Instead it is centered upon giving all you can." (23)


We are focused on the process of leadership while we neglect the hearts and souls of leaders.  Leadership training should strengthen your core, your guiding principles and values, first.  Then you can build on your core strengths.  (42-3)  Next you must understand the strengths and weaknesses and challenges of your team members. 


The protective mode is not a productive mode.  Focus on self-preservations leads to stagnation.  Defense is not a long term strategy.  It leads to mediocrity and mediocrity is self-perpetuating.  (48-9)


The goal of the relational approach is to build a trusting relationship with the customer or client so that you come to understand the customers' interests and needs and then can offer them products or services that serve them best.  Transactional business is a trap.  Transactions lead only to other transactions and the demand for short-term gains provides little fulfillment and high burn out. 


"Great leaders with true influence build relationships by serving the needs of those within their spheres of influence, even as they serve the needs of their businesses.  This isn't just a business tactic, it is a lifestyle." (54)


"Men and women who build walls to protect their status or income or their sense of security risk also restricting growth in their careers and relationships.  They also tend to fall into a very basic transactional approach….  Great leaders…step beyond the walls to give, to serve, and to grow…." (56)


"Influence is based on trust.  People do not follow those who are out only to advance their own interests. … It is nearly impossible to trust someone who thinks first and foremost about himself. … To have influence, you have to reach beyond your walls and give yourself for the benefit of others."  (58)


Overemphasis on self-preservation leads to fear of change.  Top executives may try to protect their authority, salary, time, reputation, status, perks, energy, or family.  What are you trying to protect?  Protection and preservation can mire a career and a life in mediocrity.  (65)  You become focused on yourself; you become defensive; and your performance deteriorates. 


Every leader has intentions, a motive.  "When your intent becomes organized in an action-oriented way, it becomes your agenda. … Knowing your agenda is the first step to understanding your personal leadership." (74)  Examine your intent by answering a series of questions, such as

·   What do you hope happens in your work?

·   What do you not want to happen?

·   What are you afraid of losing?    Etc.  (77)


"Leadership is influence.  Influence is power.  How that power is used comes from the intent of the leader, from the motives of the heart." (78)


People are either for you, against you, or just for themselves.  For the most part, they are just for themselves.  But what would it be like if you demonstrated that you were for them?  It brings amazing changes in people when they believe that you want the best for them.  (78-9)  Influence begins with a hunger to serve others and a willingness to assess and motivate yourself to maintain healthy relationships.  (82)


Trust is the reward of unwavering character.  Credibility typically follows from a high level of competency and depth of knowledge.  Trust and credibility are the first stages of influence. 


Influence is power and power can be used to empower and liberate or to overpower and dominate.  And either of these may occur deliberately or unconsciously.  The dominator uses influence to manipulate people to follow their agenda.  The liberator empowers others.  It typically yields good returns and good will.  Some people have difficulty sharing power for various reasons.  The majority of leaders fall somewhere in between.  It's important to understand where your leadership falls on this spectrum. 


Our society accepts the separation of private and public morality.  Yet who you are affects what you do.  Morally and spiritually broken leaders are dangerous.  Broken moral codes lead to shattered professional codes.  It is vital to be aware of your own moral codes.  To become a liberating leader you must humble yourself, empower others, listen well, practice empathy, and lead others to success via a service mentality.  (133) 


Influence requires commitment, the sacrifice of time, energy, and effort.  It means reaching out and giving of yourself.  Where you invest your influence, you invest your life.  It means establishing relationships that exceed the business or personal opportunity, for the other person's benefit, without focusing on your own needs.  It's a learned skill that brings real rewards.  Opportunities are important, but they come more readily to those who put others first. 


"When you focus on relationships rather than deals, you have an opportunity to accomplish more over a longer period.  In a transaction, you take away whatever someone pays, and that's the extent of your interaction.  Relationships are gifts that keep on giving. 'Relationships before opportunity' is about giving before receiving, planting before harvesting, and serving before asking.  The most important aspect of relationship building is to see that the other person's needs are met first." (142)  Then, use the opportunity to further serve the relationship.  Building and serving relationship establishes you as genuine and trustworthy.  (149) 


"When you find someone who is open to receive, then you simply give freely of whatever you have that is needed.  If someone is hostile or selfish, you don't give, you move on."  (158)  "The key to living as a giving influencer is to exude a giving attitude that becomes contagious." (159)  "The key is to take every interaction with a team member, a co-worker, a friend, or a family member and transform it into something special; something deeper and more meaningful than either of you expected." (164)  The internal reward is fulfillment. 


"The great reward of excellence is more business.  The great reward for intentionally serving communities, families, and individuals is long-term respect, which can't easily be diminished. … The reward for living a lifestyle of influence is the gift of mutual trust." (176)   "The ultimate reward of influence is a fulfilled life."  (179) 


"Leadership is about influence.  Influence is power.  And how you use that power will affect your world and those around you.  Will you choose to empower or overpower?  To liberate or dominate?" (181)


DLM Note:  The author seems to use the word "influence" in two ways.  One is positive, arising from the trusting relational approach that seeks to meet others' needs first.  [See pp. 58, 82, etc.]  The other is neutral and may be used positively or negatively.  [See p. 181 above.]