Have you ever remarked that another leader was “well-connected?” These are the ones that know a lot of people, those that can get things done via relationship, instead of authority. A leader with a good network can often achieve much more than a person with a lot of power. The reason for this is a kind of Leadership Thermodynamics:

[highlight class=”highlight_yellow” style=””]1) The authority of a command diminishes over time and distance as it travels from the person who invested it with authority by commanding it.[/highlight] The father from the general and the longer after battle, the more complaining you hear in the trench. The farther pulpit and the longer after Sunday, the more the people question the pastor. The farther from the King and the longer after his coronation, the slower the pigeon flies with his orders. The authority of a command winds down in a kind of leadership entropy over time.

[highlight class=”highlight_yellow” style=””]2) The only way for authority to increase, for a command to gain traction over time and distance, is if people with an influence over a network of people give the command more authority by functioning as a network accelerator along the way.[/highlight] When they hear the command, they then talk to those they influence, below, above or beside them, about the command as an idea. They talk about its value as an independent concept worth discussing and worth doing. It’s no longer a command; it becomes a cause worth fighting for. Network accelerator leaders influence their connections to get a thing done for it’s inherent value, because their authority is relational, not positional. In doing so they reverse leadership entropy and miraculously break the laws of leadership thermodynamics.

[highlight class=”highlight_yellow” style=””]3) The most influential way to lead is to begin as one of these network accelerator leaders in the first place. [/highlight]You’ve seen it. Although a leader has the power to give commands—to bark out orders—they still speak in terms of ideas. They still try to gain people for a cause and they still build a network they are trying to influence through relationship, below, above and beside them. The best leaders start their ideas off with this kind of DNA, which makes it all the more likely that the idea will be accelerated by those who lead other networks—thus becoming so much more than a program to implement, a command to obey, or an order to execute. The idea becomes a movement to join.

This is the reason that we all should be building a personal network of people we influence. Along the way we can take the best ideas, the greatest dreams, and accelerate them among our network of those we influence. Those of us with little authority can only really influence things this way. And those of us who have more authority—we need to do it most of all, because the weakest kind of leader is the general who can only hold the line by making orders, by hunting down deserters. The weakest pastor is the one who can only use the bully pulpit to create programs and ministries, rather than speaking them into existence through ideas. The weakest king is the one who commands his soldiers to die for him, instead of inspiring them to want to.

And who wants people to just obey our orders anyway? We’re in the movement business!

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