Real power in leadership comes from influence. Too often, leaders try to accomplish things out of a position of power. They fail to recognize the necessity of having devoted employees. Leading through change and competing in the market requires influential leaders with a cohesive workforce.

Lean Leadership Training

You must earn the right to influence others by developing Trust, Credibility, and Respect (TCR). This strengthens our relationships and enables us to win together. Successful leaders understand the source of this real power, how to measure it, ways to harness it, and how to build it in their leadership.



Modern psychology tells us there are five main types of power from which an individual may lead. When key differences are considered, it becomes clear that power can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Most leaders rely on some combination of these powers, depending on the situation. It’s important to note that none of these are inherently wrong.  Rather, we focus our clients on building self-awareness and help them identify when it’s appropriate to employ specific influences.

The first, coercive power, occurs when a leader uses fear tactics and punishments to motivate his or her subordinates. While this may be effective when dealing with a troublesome employee, it is most often perceived as a bullying strategy and can be detrimental to the company’s culture.

The second is reward power, which occurs when a leader offers bonuses, time off, or other positive incentives in exchange for results. This can boost motivation, productivity, and culture, but it can also lead to a sense of entitlement among employees.

A leader’s most formal weapon is legitimate power. In the organization, position most visibly translates to authority, though this power is the weakest of the five. A supervisor who lacks apparent ability will lose his or her team’s respect and loyalty.

Expert and referent power are the final two types. We consider these two types to be the most fruitful of the five.  As a leader’s credibility with their followers grows, so does his or her expert power. And as a leader obtains trust and respect through their people leadership, referent power grows.

 A leader who builds influence will gain people’s trust and naturally inspire others to take action. Those who pursue power and authority do damage to the organization.



Here’s the thing about influence; you can’t force it, so you must earn it. The more TCR we build with your team, the stronger the relationship, and the more powerful your team becomes.

If TCR is essential to influence and influence is essential to leadership, then how do we build TCR? It’s not enough to just be aware of it. You can gather feedback and define your TCR with your team, but where does that leave you?

  1. Know your stuff. A leader must come prepared and be capable of leading with confidence if she is to build credibility with her team. In practice, this means you are pursuing continual growth in your skills, abilities, and knowledge. You are increasing your functional competency, so that your leadership grows stronger.

Be careful, however, to maintain your humility. No leader has all the answers, so it’s okay to admit when you don’t. Just make sure to follow-up with the matter at hand, and each time you do this you will have strengthened your credibility.

  1. Build up your courage. A strong leader knows when to take risks for the benefit of others. He recognizes when to be vulnerable with his team and when to advocate on behalf of others. Don’t fall into the trap of mitigating risk to the point of complacent leadership.

A courageous leader is one who still feels fear and acts anyway. A leader is willing to put the turd on the table in an effective and productive way, and that will build TCR with his employees. They will trust him to seek out positive change and respect him for his courage.

  1. Lead with Authenticity. Often, leaders confuse authenticity with honesty, but that’s only half of the goal. TCR requires transparency, the willingness to say what you mean, how you are feeling, and share your excitements and frustrations.

Authentic leaders are real with their employees and develop trust on a personal level. They share their plans and goals and invest in the those of their team. Managers who put up a mental wall or try to come across a certain way inadvertently close themselves off from their employees and weaken trust in those relationships.

  1. Establish a support system for your team. Your employees must know and trust that you are there for them. Why? Because you make it abundantly clear in your body language, intonation, and non-verbal’s. You make yourself available and let them know of your intentions to support.

Beyond this, you are willing to sacrifice for the gain of others and invest into your team with partnership-level support. When your people see that you value and protect them, they will respect your leadership and place their trust in you. Moreover, they will feel safe to confide in you, providing honest feedback, sharing creative ideas, and communicating on a higher level.

Build Your Influence

Influence requires conscience and consistent effort to build. TCR is the best way for a leader to do just that. Take the above steps and put them into action in your organization. Collect feedback from your people and adjust as you go.

Here’s the bottom-line; when you make a habit of tracking and building your TCR you reveal problems, clarify your commitment to growth, and strengthen your influence as a leader.