Influencing from the Field: How to Add Your Strength
We all have moments of armchair opinions, hypothetical solutions and quick criticism for our leaders. But what I’ve come to realise is that my opinion holds a lot more weight if I’m personally invested in the vision being built. When I feel an opinion rise up, I become aware of my perspective. Am I on the sidelines or in the game? It’s so easy to have an opinion from a distance, but to carry weight and influence requires more than commentary. It requires commitment.
As a sportsman I’ve always found it difficult to watch the sports I used to play. I found it upsetting to hear the stream of criticism flow from the sidelines, from people that had never played themselves. The truth is, at the top level of sport, the play is exceptional. Ironically, it’s this fact that makes mistakes stand out like a lighthouse to a ship on a stormy night. Players know how to appreciate what’s right, armchair critics seem to point out what’s wrong. How would our perspective change on a game if we were actually involved? Our opinion carries weight if we have the experience, training and personal commitment to back it up.
Being on the field gave me eyes to see the brilliance of the play, things that appeared natural and expected to an untrained eye. It gave me insight into why mistakes were made. I found myself able to empathise with the player, instinctively sensing what he was trying to achieve with his risk. I understood the pressure involved, and from this heart posture could serve and champion my team well. Most importantly, being positioned on the field meant I was involved in the game, and therefore had a real role in influencing the outcome.
This principle applies in leadership, too. It’s easy to criticise leaders. Mistakes stand out like a sore thumb when we’re used to exceptional leadership. When I became a leader myself, my perspective changed. Having skin in the game opened me up to the pressures and tensions that exist within a leadership role. From this position, I live aware that there are expectations I won’t meet, decisions that will be misunderstood and mistakes that will be made. But who will I call to influence me as a leader? Not the people that stand on the sidelines and highlight problems. I’m influenced by those with a shared goal, who are on the field with me, fully invested in the outcome.
Let’s be people of passion, that desire excellence and live to change the course of history. But lets make sure our natural desire for influence is an invitation onto the field. Let’s posture our hearts to serve the vision of those that are pouring out their lives to serve us. The weak areas in leaders and organisations are an opportunity for you to bring your strength. Will you get in the game?