The leader’s goal of influence

Digitalization with respect to private pensions is the reorganization of pension business and service delivery using Information and Communication Technologies to create digital relationships between the Trustee and the Contributor/Client (T2C);
Kofi Anokye OWUSU-DARKO (Dr)

In my quest to become a great leader, I have had to read and research into what leadership is all about and how to be great one. I have combed through the Bible to books written on leadership. In the process, I bought any book that I came across that has leadership as part of its title, and listened to anything that sounds like leadership. This incomplete journey has brought me to understand my goal as a leader, and for that matter anyone aspiring to lead.

What I intend to do with this article is to have a conversation from my perspective about leadership by summarising or demystifying what I have discovered in my journey so far. I will start with what leadership is about, talk about the goal of a leader by introducing my model of a ‘leader’s goal of influence’ and adjourn the conversation to another time in my journey of discovery, should I have something to share since a new perspective could enhance this conversation.

What is Leadership About?

There are many definitions of leadership, characteristics of leadership, who a leader is, the values of a leader and so on. From my discovery, I will attempt to define and explain leadership in four different perspectives; in one word, two words, three words and then a sentence. This is due to the dynamism of leadership as a process and not as an event. Let me now explain my definitions of leadership

  • Leadership in one wor: Influence

A leader’s role is to influence people. A leader is in the business of influence period. Once I can influence someone to perform a given task or goal, I have performed a leadership role. This is why leadership is not necessarily about having positional authority and being given the title ‘leader’. I have discovered in my research that everyone can be a leader, hence the concept of situational leadership; and learning to be a leader is basically learning to influence.

This implies that I can be given the position of CEO of a company, but if I am unable to influence the people I work with or supposed to ‘lead’ then I have no leadership skills. With this one definition of leadership, we can have Church leadership, Political leadership, Corporate leadership, Family leadership, Sports leadership and so on. So for me, as long as a person is able to influence, he/she is playing a leadership role. How the person executes this role is irrelevant for now and is for another conversation, since it takes us into types of leadership which include dictatorship and are not within the scope this article.

  • Leadership in Two Words: Influence and Empowerment

The word ‘empowerment’ has been introduced to depict the fact that a leader’s primary role is to make themselves redundant, “get out of the way”. Leaders must make sure the system works without their physical presence to the extent that the people can add value to the process without guidance or micromanaging. Empowerment takes many forms: such as building trust, using appreciative inquiry techniques, mentoring, creating a learning environment for innovation and being creative in an Achievement and Support culture.

  • Leadership in Three Words: Influence, Empowerment and Execution

Adding the word ‘execution’ is to acknowledge the fact that a certain vision has to be accomplished, strategy must be put into ‘action’ by creating a results-oriented and performance-based environment. Moving people into execution is the ultimate goal of leadership, and requires influencing and empowerment. 

  • Leadership in a Sentence: The ABILITY to Influence and Empower people to WILLINGLY Execute a given COMMON SHARED VISION.

In the sentence, I have introduced a few more words and will explain why. The word ‘Ability’ is because it makes leadership learnable, since the ability to do something can be learnt. The word ‘Ability’ is the reason we read that leadership can be learnt – even though we have people who by their very nature influence people and we say they are Charismatic leaders, Natural leaders or Born Leaders. We can all learn to be leaders. Even the Charismatic Leaders as we have known them to be will at a point have limitations and have to learn to be a leader.

For me, there is a limit to which that charisma will take any born leader. That person will need a top-up of his/her natural ability at a point when human complications set in. You just have to learn it, since new types of human beings are being born after you with weird mindsets and behaviours which God did not envisage to give you that natural skill to influence them when you were born.

You need to learn to deal with these new crop of people like the Millennials – those in the ICT world. It is like upgrading to a new version of a software or doing a software patch because of a new virus or a bug in your software you did not envisage. Finally, I would say ‘Great Technical Ability’ does not necessarily or automatically translate to ‘Great Leadership Ability’.

Another word that I have introduced is ‘Willingly’. People can be influenced through coercion, threat, reward, punishment and that is still influence – but I intend to distinguish in the definition what we also read as ‘Good leadership Skills’. Yes, I have used coercion to influence people to do what I want; but the question is are they happy to do what they are doing? Will they continue what they are doing without the reward? Reward is of course important, but will they continue to do what they are doing without the threat, money I am giving?

I have introduced ‘Common Shared Vision’ in the sentence for a simple reason. One critical job of a leader is to ‘show the way’ which we term ‘vision’ and then get the people to own that vision – that is the process of getting to the destination and then ‘getting out of the way’, which is called delegation. There might be a need to lead from the back, which we have read to be called Servant Leadership; or lead from the front till the way, vision, is clear… which brings us to what we know as ‘self-managed teams’.

This requires that the person providing leadership is able to get everyone to a common ‘BEACH’, that is common Belief, Expectations, Assumptions, Concerns and Hope as described by Dr. Nancy Love in her book ‘Pulse-Conversations for Change’. This is where the term ‘leadership skills’ comes into play. Everyone has their own individual BEACH, which includes that of the person providing a leadership role; and even the organisation has its own BEACH. Now, the task is how to harness all these BEACHES into a common BEACH that will translate into a ‘Common Shared Vision’ – which is what leadership is about.

I have attempted to give my understanding of what leadership is about by building it from a single word to a sentence, and this was for a reason. It is to prepare you, the reader, into this article’s next segment which has to do with my model of the goal of every leader – meaning the goal of the leader’s influence.

If I have been able to get you to appreciate that leadership is basically ‘Influence’, allow me to indulge you a little bit more with what I call ‘Anokye’s Goal of Influence in Leadership Model’ that I have had to develop through my personal discovery in leadership. It gives five modes the leader needs to influence people from, with the ultimate goal being the ability of the people to execute without his/her presence.

Anokye’s Goal of Influence in Leadership Model

The model describes the journey of influence that one has to travel in leadership, and the target is to move everyone from the outside red zone into the centre green zone – the bulls-eye – and keep them there.

It is not a permanent circle for anyone, and people can move forward or slide backward depending on the degree and type of influence, the personality types, as well as the type of leadership style being used. The movement is also not necessarily by stages, since one can move from the red zone straight to the green zone and vice versa. It is a continuum, a mode of influence.

The limitation to this model is that it does not show how to navigate from the outer to the inner circle because that process is situational and there is no one best way. It is like driving a vehicle and what to do depends on whether you are in a curve, mountain, sand or overtaking; and it even also depends on the type of vehicle you are driving. Is it a SUV, saloon or a truck? Is it a Mercedes or a Toyota? Very situational and experience-based, which is outside the scope of this conversation so let’s leave it for another time.

In any organised setup with human beings – be it family, political or corporate – there exists different kinds of people which we read as personality types or behaviours. Depending on the model we want to refer to, it ranges from the Enneagram Triads of Heart, Body and Head types by Dr. Nancy Love; the 16 personality types by Myers-Briggs (MBTI); the four temperaments types of Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic and Phlegmatic by Hippocrates and Galen, as well as the Theory-X and Y types by Douglas McGregor.

These theories simply go to show that as human beings we are inherently different and cannot be expected to behave in the same way in a particular situation; and this is the dilemma of leadership, the ability to influence all this mix of personalities to achieve the common BEACH.

By the various inherent personality types we have as human beings, there are people in an organisation that need to be influenced and empowered to be able to execute a desired future state. This by the model ranges from:

  • Wait to Execute (Red Zone)

These are people who just wait to be told what to do. Their behaviour makes one feel like they are doing the organisation a favour, or were begged or forced to take up the role or task. They also tend to behave as if the job is not really what they were looking for or want, but are making do with it.

Interestingly, one can be wrong in making all these assumptions about those in this circle because it could be they have no idea or knowledge about the task they are expected to undertake; and it could also be because of their personality type or they are just new on the job.

They may be willing but unable to perform the task or role assigned to them. This may be annoying, but a little bit of training and development may move them closer into the inner circle.

  • Ask to Execute (Orange Zone)

At this point, people might have the know-how/knowledge but lack confidence to take the needed initiative to get the job done. The reasons can be numerous and could include a power or role culture in the organisation, the leadership style and, of course, the personalities of the parties.

These people want to be sure they have been given the approval to proceed by a superior before they execute any task. They also may not be sure of their capabilities and want to seek direction. It may come across as if they are dumb and you are always ending up doing their work for them yet paying them.

They are still very vulnerable and have the tendency to slide back to the ‘wait and execute’ mode if not appropriately influenced. A little bit of encouragement, empowerment and appreciative inquiry techniques may move them closer to the inner circle.

  • Execute and Seek Approval (Blue Zone)

Where people have the requisite knowledge, training and skills to execute the task but are unsure of the organisation’s position or mindset of the supervisor, they will seek approval for what they have done. Some may just want to avoid blame should something go wrong, or seek collective responsibility.

It may also be that past events of ‘execution without approval’ have caused unpleasant issues. There are those who also do not trust the system to take any risk, even in a crisis situation. People like this need encouragement and assurance to move toward the inner circle.

  • Execute and Report (Yellow Zone)

Those who ‘execute and report’ have an abundance of knowledge and experience. They know what to do in any given situation and have good relationships with their colleagues. They know the mindset of the leader, what he/she is likely to do or not do in any given circumstance so they can play that role. They know they will get acknowledgement of their actions, and to a very large extent mistakes will be tolerated as part of leaning.

  • Execute (Green Zone)

This is the ‘bull’s-eye’, the ultimate goal of leadership. At this point, everyone is firing on all cylinders and knows what to do, how to do it, when to do it and the expectations of all parties. They have seen it all, have a system’s view of the organisation’s workings and know its psychology as well as its leadership.

They know the culture and how to navigate through it to achieve their goal. They appreciate that at most times “the end must be as good as the means” – but know that situations arise when “the end should justify the means”.  In this circle, mode of ‘execute’, the leader has created a learning organisation.


For me, leadership is influence. The goal of a leader’s influence is however to move people to execute through empowerment. There is no one best way to leadership, since influencing people is dynamic. Everyone has what it takes to get them to act, and that is the leader’s quandary.

If someone is not responding the way it is expected of him/her, it means the leader does not have or has not found what it takes to influence that person – as shown in my model, from the ‘wait to execute’ person toward the ‘execute’ mode. It is a leadership challenge if people are not moving toward the bull’s-eye, and not the people’s problem. Your goal as a leader is to influence people to execute – to the point of you not having anything to do but dream of the future.

The ‘Anokye’s Goal of Influence in Leadership’ model is my contribution, so far, to the literature on leadership. I am still on the never-ending journey of learning, but we can part ways for now in our joint discovery of what leadership is all about and how to be a great leader, to have another conversation later. I hope this has been useful and value-adding for your own discovery and knowledge in leadership.

The author holds a DBA in Leadership & Organisational Change, is a Chartered Banker, a Certified Management Consultant & Organisation Development Practitioner. Currently, he is a Mediation & ADR student with Gamey & Gamey. (Contact: [email protected])

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