In the May 25 issue of The Catholic Leader, we noted that if leaders are focusing primarily on expanding their influence, they are focusing on the wrong thing.

Not that there’s anything wrong with wanting to be an influential leader. Indeed, Jesus wanted us to lead with influence. But the way to do that is not by focusing on expanding our influence. Instead, we should focus on expanding our capacity to lead – and if we do that well, our influence will inevitably grow and deepen.

Ralph Enlow, author of The Leader’s Palette: Seven Primary Colors, offers a practical framework for Christian leaders to expand their leadership capacity by thinking in terms of seven different “primary colors” of leadership. They are:

1. Incarnational Leadership
“We influence people by who we are rather than what we tell them to do." To use an educational metaphor, the implicit curriculum of how we act always trumps the explicit curriculum of what we say we’re about. As leaders, therefore, we need to make sure our institutional culture and climate is aligned to what we’re saying and commending about leadership.

2. Relational Leadership
Leaders lead through the dynamic of authentic relationships much more than issuing directives or implementing organizational schemes.

3. Developmental Leadership
Leaders lead by helping your team members become all God has designed them to be, not merely to do all you want them to.

4. Directional Leadership
Leaders lead by helping stakeholders clarify and coalesce around a coherent mission and a compelling vision, and by aligning people and processes toward that mission and vision.

5. Ecological Leadership
Leaders lead by cultivating a culture and learning to observe the signals of climate, and thereby foster conditions that permit prospering and productivity.

6. Situational Leadership
Leaders lead when there’s a strong fit between the leader and a situation; concurrently, the best leaders are the most adaptable leaders.

7. Doxological Leadership
Leaders lead when they help people move toward God and more into step with God.

Notice what brings all these “colors” together into a holistic spectrum of effective leadership. It is their consistent concern for the best interests of the follower and the organizational setting shared by follower and leader alike.

If your purpose is to expand your capacity to influence others, these seven “colors” provide a handy checklist of what to work on going forward.


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