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Making Room for Leadership

Power, Space and Influence

By MaryKate Morse
1 Bodied Influence Leadership and the Body
o Definition of leadership: leadership means influence. Leaders influence
others more than they are influenced themselves.
o Leadership is a physical and social process and includes

Body postures, gestures, nuanced voices and intuitive

engagements with others.

How you enter a room, position yourself to speak, modulate your

voice and use your eyes.

Assessing the power quotient of each person in the group.

o Authentic leadership catalyzes a group toward deep change and moves

its members in positive, energizing directions.
o A leader helps give form and direction but everyone has the right and
responsibility to be part of the influencing process.

2 Holding the Dynamite The Ethics of Power

Various Kinds of Power Exercised in Interpersonal Relationships
o Expert power accrues to someone who has special knowledge, skills,
training or significant experience.
o Character power endows to a person with special status and voice
because of some observed quality of their character. Character power is
given to a person by a group an individual cannot claim it for himself.
o Role power is given to those who serve a particular role in an
organization. Role power is positional authority, e.g., the boss.
o Culture power is given to those that are valued, e.g., we give
athletes and actors a great deal of status.

3 Simon and the Sinner Woman Jesus Use of Power

o Jesus had all four social powers.

He was known for his expertise with the Scriptures

He was known for his righteousness, which gave him character


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As a teacher he had role power with the crowds

In the Jewish culture rabbis were the rock stars of their day.

o The story is of the woman with no social power washing Jesus feet with
her tears and using perfume to finish the task. Simon who was the host
had not offered anything for Jesuss feet as was the custom.
o Though Simon had all four types of social power, he used them this
situation in judgment to secure and preserve his own status and agenda.
o Jesus used his social power to rebuke and teach Simon while restoring
the woman.
o Jesus accepted the womans act of love and announced her new status
as a forgiven sinner.
Using Personal and Social Power for Greater Good
o Power is neutral, natural and necessary component of influencing and
o Christians are designed to exercise power the way Jesus did, i.e., to
empower those who are powerless.
o Power is Gods gift. Powerlessness is not a virtue; rather, using power to
help the powerless is.

4 The Epicenter How Leaders Take Up Space

Leaders and Physical Space
o People are affected not only by the condition of their surroundings but
also by the presence of others in that setting.
o In face-to-face interactions, the total body is involved. The interaction is
more than a mental process it is a body process.
o Power is constructed and communicated in physical space through
o Individuals behave differently in different settings in order to protect or
o People automatically adjust the physical distance between themselves
and others, usually without even being aware of it.
Four Types of space-keeping
o Public space as we go about our daily pursuits we generally like a
distance of at least twelve feet. Though that distance cannot be

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maintained at all times, it is the space people generally desire for public
o Social space is observed in settings where people generally maintain
a distance of four to twelve feet between each other. This distance is
close enough to see someones face more clearly, you can speak in a
normal tone of voice, but you are not close enough to touch. Social
settings are the epicenter where the true nature of leadership is
observed and evaluated.
o Personal space is the preferred distance individuals maintain as their
bubble of separation from others. Americans prefer a distance of two
and a half feet to four feet, which can be seen as a distance between
o Intimate space is a distance of six to eighteen inches and is reserved
for the closest of relationships. At this distance nothing is withheld.
Your body and face can be completely relaxed.

5 The It Factor Power of Presence

o The capacity to draw the attention of others is often referred to as
presence or the it factor.

Some equate presence with gravitas the appearance of dignity,

influence or authority.

Others equate presence with a special kind of captivating beauty

Princess Diana had it.

o Some consciously use this quality to get attention or to influence others.

When Bill Clinton walks into a room, everyone knows hes got it, no
matter their political views.
o On the other end of the spectrum are those who are rarely noticed.
They have zero it factor.
Physical Elements of Presence
o People with presence have the ability to walk in a room and get the
attention and respect of its occupants.
o Presence is intuitively perceived by a group. The manner in which a
person carries and positions his or her body, the subtlety of facial
expressions reflect attitudes as clearly as words spoken.
o Marshall McLuhan said, The medium is the message, but in leadership
the body is the message.

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o Evaluating presence can tell you a lot about someone else and their
place in a group. Every social group unconsciously trains its members to
ascertain instinctively who belongs and who doesnt, who is strong and
who isnt.
o Like power, presence is neutral, and it is a gift. Like power, presence
can be used for healthy or unhealthy reasons.

If you use your presence to increase your status and influence for
personal gain at the expense of others, then it is unhealthy.

If you use your presence to influence for the betterment of the

group, then it is healthy.

Presence and Charisma

o Charisma, like power and presence, is a neutral quality. It can be used
for good or for ill.
o Charismatic leaders influence through emotional appeals based in selfconfidence that stems from an unshakable conviction in the rightness of
their beliefs.
o Charisma is not necessarily a predictor of good leadership. Having it
doesnt mean that a person will use it wisely. Lacking it does not prevent
a person from cultivating presence in order to influence.

6 The Law of the Jungle Visual Marks of Presence

o We have innate survival instincts that help us distinguish between the
mighty and the meek. Our bodies communicate either mightiness or
o First impressions are powerful. Our presence matters when we walk into
a room. People make decisions based on physical presentation.
o Presence is a complicated package of tangibles and intangibles we carry
in our bodies: the visuals, or what we see; and the viscerals, or what our
bodies experience.
o Below lists some of the visual markers that others may notice first.
More Presence

Less Presence



Dominant culture

Nondominant culture



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Middle age for men; youth for women

Old age

Good looks; attractiveness

Ordinary physical features


Unexceptionally dressed

Higher education

Little education



Role authority; corner office

Under authority; cubicle

7 Second Impressions Visceral Marks of Presence

o Second impressions are visceral markers that are more difficult to define.
o We often use internal filters to assess whether a person we are meeting
for the first time is safe or could hurt our position in a group.
o Below lists some visceral markers that may contribute to more or less
presence in a group.
More Presence

Less Presence

Focused; purposeful


Taking risks

Avoiding risks

Optimistic; hopeful

Depressed; cynical

Gifts of leadership/charisma

Gifts of serving & mercy

Defined boundaries

Fuzzy or no boundaries

High social interaction

Low social interaction

Making eye contact

Avoiding eye contact

Using appropriate touch

Avoiding touch

Focus Focused people are willing to approach others, no matter who they are,
if it means reaching their goals. They are persistent. They dont worry about
whether they have the right to barge into another persons busy life.
Risk Those who are comfortable taking risks take up more social space.
People who are averse to taking risks rarely say or do anything to rock the boat.
Risk-takers generally have more presence and more influence.
Attitude Optimism and hope are infectious. Cynicism and depression are not.

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Boundaries Defined boundaries help everyone feel safe. People with healthy
spatial boundaries instinctively understand that an invasion of their personal
space whether physical or emotional, is an affront to their personhood. Those
without spatial boundaries are not given much power.
Social interaction Learning social skills leads to more self-confidence.
Increased confidence results in more presence and influence.
Eye contact In Western culture, direct eye contact is necessary in order to be
an influencer. A person does not usually gaze into someone elses eyes for more
than three seconds. In a group setting, the amount of eye contact individuals
make and the amount they receive is a good indicator of their level of influence.
Also the more influence and status a person has, the more likely it is that others
in the group will orient their bodies toward that individual.
Touch is a powerful communicator. Appropriate touching moves an
interaction from public space to social, personal or intimate space. Touch is used
to express emotion, especially in the process of establishing rapport. On the
other hand, if a person avoids touch, others are less likely to initiate and sustain
a relationship with him or her.

8 Bean-Counting Social Space The Economics of Power

o Authentic servant leadership involves stewardship of power, power used
thoughtfully for Gods purpose as an exchange within a group.
o Everything about the leader is a reflection of his stewardship of power
either for service or for personal gain.
The Stewardship of Resources in Scripture
o Power is a gift from God meant for us to exercise with joy.
o Power is also one of the primary means of turning human hearts away
from God.
o There are certain extremes of powerfulness and powerlessness that are
Divergent Economics: Limited and Unlimited Goods
o A Limited-goods culture

First century Mediterranean culture the masses viewed

themselves as being in an interdependent relationship with the
persons in power, who represented and preserved the values of
the culture.

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Those who had more were responsible for sharing with those who
had less.

Those who had less were responsible for maintaining loyal and
supportive relationships with those who looked out for them.

The limited-goods perspective not only influenced material

resources but nonmaterial resources as well. Honor was a highly
prized nonmaterial resource.

Jesus challenged the traditional views of value and honor and used
public social events, especially meals to redistribute power.
For Jesus, honor was not related to human birthright or
social position but came through an inclusive hospitality for
those who sought him.
Jesus challenged the notion that some are inherently
excluded while others are naturally included.

o An Unlimited-goods culture

The western culture is an unlimited-goods culture, which believes

that there are plenty of resources to go around.

The rich do not think that their coffers represent wealth garnered
at the expense of others or that because they have more, others
have less.

Power as a resource is all about individual skills. Power to

influence is an individual resource and has limited potential.

An unlimited-goods culture affects how we view social space, i.e.,

that there is plenty of room for everyone when in fact there is a
limited use of space.

This attitude also leads to consumerism with an insatiable appetite.

Rather than resources belonging to the community, they are there
for personal consumption and enjoyment.

Stewardship and Power

o Western culture has a consumer attitude toward power.
o It belongs to us individually. We can cultivate it and manage it and
distribute it for the outcomes we believe are necessary.
o However, the problem with this perspective is that a social setting does
not afford limitless amounts of power. If one person takes up lots of
social space, others cannot have the same measure of influence. Power
as a resource has limits.

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o The stewardship of power, then, is not consumption but hospitality
toward the rest of the family.
o The purpose of power is not to enhance or secure ones personal
influence but to enhance the influence and well-being of the group.
o Jesus used his status to empower others and to subvert the status quo.
Jesus stewarded his words, his use of touch, etc. to love those
marginalized by the culture.
Personal Application
o How we use power in social spaces communicates our motivations, needs
and passions.
o Understanding power is a group resource rather than an individual one
could unleash a new freedom for accomplishing Gods purposes.
o The attitude that power is unlimited rather than limited creates an
isolating, consumerist spirit rather than a spirit of hospitality.
o When power is seen as unlimited, the conclusion is that a persons power
or lack thereof is an individual responsibility and not for the group to
o But when we adopt the model of Jesus, those with large amounts of
social power have a primary responsibility to steward it to monitor it,
assess it and use it well for the benefit of the whole group.

9 Space-Taking and Space-Hiding Using Power Well

o The amount of social space we take up falls on a continuum from lots to
little. Power is used well when the extreme edges of the continuum are
brought to the middle.
o Leaders who use lots of space are like sponges soaking up influence and
power. On the other end are leaders who are more like shadows, having
little impact and are actually invisible when it comes to influencing
o Stewarding power well means both types of leaders bring their gifts to
the center rather than living at the edges.
Driven to the Shadows
o Serving a leader who takes up more and more space in a limited-goods
environment drives more and more people to the shadows.
o Sponges are sponges because the group either needs them to be or
simply lets them be. Shadows are shadows for the same reasons.

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Group Shadow-Think
o Space-takers generally speak first or last, or they speak extensively.
Often they are insecure leaders.
o Space-hiders often talk outside of a meeting about the things they
wanted to say but didnt.
o Shadow-think occurs in situations involving the misuse of social space.
o When a group wants to minimize conflict or stay in a comfort zone, it
avoids challenging an individuals misuse of power.
Making God the Great Sponge
o When someone says, God told me... it is using God to advance ones
personal agenda.
o Who can argue with that? Often no one does and we find it difficult to
challenge the person speaking. God then becomes the great sponge,
with the spokesperson being the obedient servant.
Power Projection and Power Struggles
o Whenever two or more individuals gather for a common purpose, power
dynamics are triggered. Power is exercised any time a person in a group
attempts to influence others.
o The attempt to influence is received, ignored or shelved for the time
o Whoever is perceived as having the most power, whoever is taking up
the most space, will either attract or threaten persons who have less
status in the group.
o People who possess power attract a coalition of yes-people, and
shadow-think becomes an easy pitfall. Insecure people will attach
themselves to the powerful.
o Power projection often results in a codependent relationship between the
leader and the followers. The leader likes the support and devotion. The
followers have the status that goes along with access to inside power.
o In a healthy leadership environment group members feel comfortable
raising contrary opinions. Vigorous debates about issues do not become
personal attacks on an opponents motives.
o A wise person once said, If you seek power before service, youll neither
get power or service. If you seek to serve people more than to gain
power, you will not only serve people, you will gain influence. Thats very
much the way Jesus did it.

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10 Open Space Managing Our Own Souls

o As representatives of Christs kingdom, we need to spend time in our
spiritual closets to clear our heads of the constant buzz of life. We
should not lead or attempt to influence without preparing ourselves.
o Self-leadership is the distinguishing factor between good leaders and
great leaders. Self-leadership means leading and managing yourself first.
o Management expert Dee Hock discovered that great leaders spend 40
percent of their time managing themselves in the areas of ethics,
purpose, motivation and conduct.
o Self-leadership requires that we spend time reading, thinking, preparing
and praying so we can lead as Jesus did.
o Any time an important meeting or conversation is planned, it is essential
that leaders prepare spiritually and emotionally for their own reaction. To
prepare ask yourself:

What strong feelings might be triggered in me?

Have I carefully thought through all the implications of this

proposal and processes to implement it?

The purpose is to examine your own heart to make sure you know your
true motivations and your response to potential challenges to your ideas.
Inner Preparedness how to develop it
o The primary ingredients for spiritual attentiveness are time and space.
Enough time is needed to experience rest and openness with God.
o A quiet and reflective place is necessary to minimize distractions and
allow the Holy Spirit to move in us at those deeper levels.

When we fill up the time with our own words and thoughts, we are
trying to stay in control.

When we allow ourselves to be still and wait, we relinquish control

to God. Listening to God is the beginning of understanding.

Time with God is not simply leisure or selfishness; it is our spiritual

food and drink.

o Most of us need a quiet place we can return to with the same rituals
journaling, reading scripture, memorizing, meditating and prayer.
o Time with God is also a good way to reflect on strong emotions that are
triggered in interactions with others.

Strong emotions are doorways to understanding yourself and your

relationship to God.

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Reflecting on emotional triggers develops self-awareness, which

leads to a more clear-headed experience the next time a power
struggle occurs.

o Time with God also allows us to thoughtfully consider other peoples

perspectives. A leader who uses his or her power well seeks to
understand other views.

11 Getting in the Sandbox Practical Strategies for Leading

o Where you sit matters leaders usually occupy a central position such
as the head of a table. However if a leader doesnt take that position, it
is better to sit across the table from, rather than alongside the leader.
Seating suggestions for group interactions:

If the group is seated in a circle, sit across from the leader for easy
eye contact.

If the group is seated theater style, sit in the second row.

Sit next to someone who has a different opinion than you.

If you are a leader you will encourage more shared leadership and
participation by not taking a prominent seat.

The more a leader needs to direct a meeting, the more important it

is he takes a prominent seat, e.g., the head of the table.

o How you gesture matters

If you want to make a key point, lean forward and use palm-down
hand gestures.

Sitting back with palms open suggests a lack of conviction or

submission to the will of the leader of the group.

If a person is fearful he keeps the corners of the mouth back,

pulling lips in, licking lips, swallowing.

If angry or disgusted, he uses assertive gestures: frowning,

pointing, wrinkling of facial features.

If relaxed, he uses relaxed gestures: leaning back, settling in,

neutral facial expressions, laughing, folding arms.

If a person wants to draw attention to himself, he smiles, brightens

up, rises up, nods, continues to smile.

Strive for a relaxed, open and warm presence that comes from an
inner confidence in your role and purpose.

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o How and when you speak matters

Know your audience before speaking. Factors such as gender, age,

ethnicity, personality types, etc impact how you should interact and
initiate conversations about a topic.

Take risks in conversations to initiate your ideas. Leaders are not

afraid to share their thoughts or suggest a course of action.

When you speak, avoid being overly dramatic or emotional.

Raising the emotional level causes others to shut down or over

Use I language when speaking about your own ideas and we

language when representing a teams perspective.

Wait for the appropriate time to speak during discussions, but dont
wait too long or you may lose your opportunity.

If you speak and get cut off, do not react but wait for the person
who interrupted you to stop talking. Then say something like,
Thats interesting. Id like to finish my thoughts.

Speak clearly and simply for just a few minutes. Do not dominate
the conversation with your opinion.

Unless you are in charge of a meeting, try not to speak first or last.
Listen to several others before you say anything.

If you have little influence, speaking first puts you in a vulnerable

position as those who disagree with you can dismantle your ideas.

If you have a lot of influence, speaking first makes it difficult for

others to offer contrary opinions.

Speaking last to summarize the meeting is a strong position.

Speaking last to get the final word and stay in control is a misuse
of power.

o Keeping personal boundaries matters

When a meeting triggers strong feelings in you such as anger,

frustration, etc its important to pull back and discern what is
going on internally.

If you cant leave the meeting, stop participating in the discussion

and do the internal work to sort out your feelings.

If you cannot get clarity on your feelings, ask if the discussion can
be tabled until youve had time to reflect.

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Remember to respect the opinions of other members at the


o Being prepared matters

Prior to the meeting, get input from everyone who would be

affected by the change. It never helps to surprise people with
decisions that affect them personally.

Seek the wisdom of others who have experience in this matter.

Touch base with the person chairing the meeting and let him know
ahead of time what you are bringing and how much time you need.

Prepare to communicate your ideas without criticizing the effort of

others. Write out clear primary points beforehand.

Come to the meeting with any data, books, websites , etc that
supports your point of view.

o If the meeting doesnt go well Whenever you enter a hostile space,

make it a conscious moment of stepping into sacred space by praying a
short prayer, something like, Lord, with you as my model, in this
situation I now serve.

14 The Guardians Overseeing a Leaders Use of Power

o Power used poorly corrupts individuals and communities. It breaks down
relationships. Power used well is transformational.
o Changing how a culture perceives and uses power is most effective when
the leaders make it a priority. It must be modeled at the top.
o If a group is to work well, then each person needs the chance to
participate and be taken seriously in decision-making matters.
o Leaders need to mentor not only promising pups but also the ducklings
that dont seem to fit but have leadership promise.
o Inclusion is a powerful experience. When you are a minority or different
or new, being included is huge.

15 - Conclusion
o Learning how to use power is a core competency, second only to an
authentic walk with God that will have a catalytic impact on how we lead.