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The Champion Forum Podcast

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TCFP212: Leadership Is Earned

Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! Being “in charge” doesn’t automatically grant you authority. True authority is earned! If you want to lead others with influence, you must demonstrate to your team that you are honest, competent, inspirational, and forward-thinking and show that you care about them. Today’s podcast will discuss the importance of each of these characteristics and give you some easy ways to apply them to your leadership today.

“Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.”
- John Maxwell

Characteristics of Leaders who Have Earned Their Authority


Honesty goes beyond just telling your employees the truth. You also have to be a person who is true to your word and avoids talking about other people behind their backs. When you prove you are honest, your team will trust that you have their best interest in mind.


Excellence attracts attention. People will naturally want to be around you when you are great at what you do. No one is competent in every area of their job, and people will have some grace for you in areas where you’re learning. But your team should see that you have general competence in your role. Part of being competent is knowing what you don’t know, and humility in your competence will go a long way to gaining trust with your team.


Inspirational leaders find ways to enhance the potential of those they lead. Their goal is to help their team develop greater confidence in what they can do and apply this confidence to benefit the organization. Focus on showing your employees their potential. Help them understand how their potential will support their professional and personal goals. When people know that they have a purpose, it changes everything. If you want to carry influence, ensure that the people around you feel purpose.


People appreciate it when others take the time to get to know them, especially in the workplace. By learning about what your people value and how they work best, you can find unique ways to inspire them. When people feel understood, they may be more open to inspiration and guidance.


Having a vision that you can communicate with clearly defined goals, enthusiasm, and a solid “why” will make you followable. Have a vision so compelling that people are willing to sacrifice to contribute to it.

How To Earn Your Leadership Authority

  1. Meet with your team regularly in one-on-one meetings. Ask them questions and genuinely listen to understand.

  2. Don’t just talk about the performance items. Discuss the obstacles they face, professional development opportunities they’d like to pursue, or even personal issues they’re concerned about. By engaging with them on their playing field, you will begin engendering the kind of trust that will allow you to have the authority you need.

  3. Where you have expertise, offer to help. And when you do, remember to empower them. Don’t just do the work yourself; give them the tools they need to learn. If you are not the right person, help them find someone who is.

  4. Do what you say you’ll do, and act fairly toward everyone. If people don’t believe in you, they won’t believe in what you say.

Application Activities:

  1. Ask your team what matters most to them. You can do this in something as simple as an email. Ideally, you will ask this question when you onboard your team members and periodically during your one-on-one meetings. Ask relevant questions about their goals and priorities to get to know them for who they are, not just what they do.

  2. Evaluate your current level of competence in your job. This is especially important for leaders tasked to lead people in an area outside their expertise. Write down 3-5 areas of expertise your team has and rank them from most important to least important. Ask a team member to help bring you up to speed and invest in courses or books to help you continue to develop in those areas. Don’t worry about knowing every single thing your team members do. Instead, focus on bringing yourself up to speed on industry trends and understanding the kinds of questions your team needs you to ask to help them move forward.

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