Clout: what is it, who has it and how do we get it? All these questions and more are wrapped up in this insightful book by Stephen Graves and Thomas Addington.
The book begins with the story of a father’s funeral: “At the end of his life … no one had come to his funeral, not even a minister!” The question develops from there: how does one become a person of influence?
As the authors unpack this question, their first task is to define “influence” as a person’s ability to shape people and mold outcomes. They then distinguish between raw influence and “clout.”
Clout, the authors say, is what people do with their influence.
Early discussions of the term refer to negative connotations of shadowy backroom deal-making and “bulldozing” of power and authority. The authors admit that “clout” is seen by many as a “dirty” word with no place in a discussion of spiritual matters.
But this is not the end of the book. Graves and Addington, who are committed to their mission to blend business excellence with biblical wisdom, then begin to “baptize” this “dirty word.” Their purpose is to show how “clout” is actually filled with the mystery and power of God.
“To approach influence without acknowledging the mysterious side of this topic creates unreal expectations and unhealthy outcomes,” they write.
While admitting that the wielding of clout can be hurtful, selfish and dark, they outline a description for what they call the “right” kind of clout:
1) The right kind of clout works today but doesn’t haunt me tomorrow.
2) The right kind of clout works for me but doesn’t dishonor you.
3) The right kind of clout involves both shrewdness and innocence.
4) The right kind of clout is hands-on, practical and transferable.
5) The right kind of clout involves my hard work but also accounts for the mysterious elements beyond me.
They tend to reach a bit far to support a couple of these points, but there is much richness to be mined here!
The chapter on wisdom is excellent. Three chapters dealing with “logos,” “pathos,” and “ethos” are wonderfully woven together to support the thesis of “good clout.” The book concludes with “influence gone bad,” a most insightful chapter, and a discussion of “world class” influence.
There is not a lot of new information here, but the packaging of thought is unique and challenging. “Key points” at the end of each chapter are worth sharing in leadership-training or personal-coaching events. Biblical references are not just “proof texts” twisted to fit the authors’ ideas. Bulleted lists throughout the writing are well done and make sense.
In this backlash of culture from the Enrons and WorldComs of the world, Clout certainly delivers food for thought.
Bo Prosser is coordinator for congregational life for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in Atlanta.
Buy Clout: Tapping Spiritual Wisdom to Become a Person of Influence now from Amazon.com.