5 Ways To Lose Your Influence As A Leader

Influence is at the heart of leadership. Our actions should inspire and influence our tribe to become better. To do more. To be more.

However, we sometimes do things that make us lose our influence as leaders.

Beached sailboats

Image by Damian Gadal

Be on guard for the actions that will make your leadership less effective and for you to lose your influence over your tribe. Your influence is valuable and it’s key to being a leader.

As you’re leading, take care to not lose your influence.

Have a Do as I say, not as I do attitude: Our actions speak louder than words. When we expect others to do as we say but not as we do, our tribe begins to notice.

Those once great followers will soon turn away. They’ll realize you’re all talk, no action. Don’t let your actions tell your tribe you’re not a leader.

Complain: So many leaders lose their influence because of the negativity that comes out of their mouth. It might be a sharp criticism of the president, a rant about the quality of their product, or knocking a customer.

Complaining tears apart our influence. As our team sees us complaining about someone or something else, they may begin to wonder what you’re saying about them behind their backs.

Don’t allow this thinking to seep into your team. Take complaining out of your leadership.

Be dishonest: People hate to be lied to. It also creates trust issues.

Trust issues lead to a loss of influence.

Make it all about you: Your leadership isn’t about you. It’s about taking the team to the next level.

Be careful if you notice your leadership is becoming more about you than raising up others.

Fail to communicate: Communication is vital to a thriving team and to great leadership. When communication breaks down, your people will begin to wonder what is happening.

They’ll create stories to fill in the blanks. They’ll become fearful. They’ll become resentful.

Poor communication will make you lose your influence slow and steady. Before you know it, it’s gone.

As a young leader, you’ve got to be aware you can lose your influence. These actions will erode that influence until you no longer have any sway over those you lead.

Be on guard, don’t let your influence slip.

Question: How have you seen a leader lose influence? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I’ve seen it happen in the office and in other settings – like church. Failure to follow through on what you are promising is a good way to lose influence with your team.

    • That’s a good one Jon. When we fail to follow through, we are viewed differently. People begin to think of us as untrustworthy or uncaring. Thanks for sharing!

  • Dan Erickson

    My daughter sometimes points out that I occasionally do exactly what I ask her not to do. Oops. I agree with Jon about failing on a promise. I tend not to promise much and then I don’t fail.

    • Haha, kids are good at noticing things like that.

  • Lori Bosworth

    I think a failure to follow up with others for whatever reason is a definite way to lose influence. I’ve been guilty of this when I’ve become really busy.

    • Yeah, it’s a biggie for sure. How are you combating that trait?

      • Dealing with emails immediately or if you can’t do that, scheduling a follow-up is also good.

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  • I think good leadership is characterized by transparency. By living and leading by our core values. Hidden agendas, failure to follow through or lack of trust leads to lack of influence.

    Personally I think #4 is the most important. If leaders know and understand their mission all the other points become redundant. On the other hand once leadership is no longer about the mission but about the leader all the other “dark” approaches emerge. Leadership must be about the team.

    • Soren, you make a great point. Leadership needs to know how to communicate the mission. What’s one way leaders can do a better job of this?

      • Ask questions. A lot of leaders would gain much valuable insight by talking to people at the bottom of the organization as well as the costumers. That would help develop a deep understanding of situation as well as mission.

        • I like it Soren. If leaders were to ask questions regarding the understanding of the mission, they’d understand whether or not it’s being communicated properly.

  • Joe,

    Alan Allard one enlightened me about complaining. He said you can have great ideas for change but unless you communicate those ideas to those who can affect change your complaining.

    There is a fine line between complaining and expressing concern over issues, policies, etc… I think the line is crossed when we start attacking people on a personal level.

  • I’ve seen a leader or manager lose the influence they had many times over. It takes a lot of time to build trust and influence but can be broken in a second. We have to always guard against the things that would lead to our downfall. Great thoughts, Joe!

    • Yes we do Dan! It’s amazing how quickly we can lose the influence we’ve gained.

  • Joe, how true this is. I couldn’t agree more. I have to catch myself many times especially when I am frustrated that things are not happening. But I know there are some readers who may be wondering how long the human spirit can withstand pressure within a culture that does not promote innovative thought? How about trust?

    • Honestly, I don’t think they can last long without being crushed. Innovation and trust are two things people hunger for. If it’s not there, it’s confining and I’d suggest looking for something new while you’ve still got something going for you.

  • Joshua Lee Henry

    Good way to teach leadership, by showing what not to do. In a similar vein to # 1 “have a do what i say, not as I do attitude” is one of the most critical areas where I see leaders fumble. At the heart of this hypocrisy is a flaw in integrity… When you’re actions are consistent with your words, a leader has a whole (i.e., “integer”) perspective and can set a healthy example.