Influencer? Leader? Pretender? I bet you think you are …

Influencer? Leader? Pretender? As part of my leadership training I ask, which of these are you? I have found that most people are pretenders yet they consider themselves Leaders.

What’s the difference?

An influencer is someone who has ideas, can move things around on occasion, help leaders lead by becoming part of the leaders’ movement. An influencer follows the lead of the leader and in so doing becomes a noticed part of the leadership team and therefore carries influence in the decision making by the group and considered by the leader to be an important part of the leadership team.

An influence may lead on occasion but is typically valued by the leader for the way they accomplish tasks, how they help the group accomplish tasks and how they are visible and supportive of the leader.

But influencers come and go simply because so many leaders do not understand the dynamics of their own group. Many times the strongest influencers will be the core of a leaders success. If that leader does not recognize the true influencer of a group and selects their own influencer, the leader may find themselves at odds with their team or they may find their team fluctuating in how quickly they accomplish a task because a selected influencer typically does not have the following of the true influencer. In this instance the team will struggle, talk and debate, areas that the leader wants to accomplish simply because the influencer is not a strong enough personality to convey the leaders’ message.

The true influencer foes not have to apply any pressure or convey any power but typically simply leads under the guise of accomplishment. Leading by example.

On the other hand is the pretender. The pretender is that person who wants to be a leader. Probably just wants to be the influencer and takes on the pseudo-guise of the influencer. Thinks that by being on the leader’s elbow or their go-to person for requests that they will be seen as a leader themselves.

The pretender is the one standing and talking with people while the influencer and the team do all of the work around them. The pretender doesn’t even recognize the team or the accomplishment because they value their own input, their own placement in any environment and place themselves to be seen.

The pretender seldom is involved in the actual accomplishment but almost always tries to take credit for the job well done and never notices the snide remarks or rolling eyes as they often get rewarded by poor leaders who only see the pretender as the pretender wants to be seen.

The problem with a leader recognizing the pretender as the influencer of their group or organization is that it undermines both the influencer and the team in a negative way. It creates demotivation within the group and eventually a result is lack of motivation by the team because the influencer will finally step back from their support role of the leader and in doing so, open the pretender to need to take over the role which is completely unsupported by their team.

When the true influencer steps back a leader will notice the change, not only in the group dynamics but also in the accomplishment style, speed or quality of the group work. The pretender does not have the support or vision of the influencer.

It is crucial, as a leader, that you become aware of these differences.

Examples of the influencer versus the pretender are that when a job needs to be done, the influencer leads the team in its accomplishment while the pretender will talk to other weaker and less accomplishing members of the team while the actual work is taking place all around them. Then, in the final stage of the work or development, the pretender will try to take responsibility for the accomplishment by going to the leader to announce how the project is or has been completed before the influencer is even done doing the job.

Here then, is the difference between a leader and a great leader. The great leader recognizes the real accomplishment and who accomplished it, while a weaker leader may not only reward the pretender but accommodate them through some manner of recognition and promoting the wrong members of their team.

Now the problem with this article is that the pretender does not even have enough leadership in them to recognize that this article has been about them, while the leader and the influencer are both nodding and smiling at the thought that the pretender missed it altogether.

I am Steve Sapato, Leadership and self-improvement expert.

Hoping you have an extraordinary day.

 

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