The J-Curve of Leadership

J Curve graph
J Curve

The J-curve is useful to illustrate the relationship between cause and effect. The curve is used in many industries to show the impact of a stimulus over time.

The J-curve can also be used to depict an important principle of leadership.

The x-axis of the graph represents time. The passage of time is illustrated from left to right on the line. The y-axis, in this example, represents the influence of a leader. Growth in influence is represented from the bottom of the axis to the top.

The bottom of the J remains flat over time until influence begins to build. For most leaders, it takes a length of time to build meaningful influence. Some leaders earn influence sooner than other leaders.  

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Factors that impact influence include:

  • Experience
  • Productivity
  • Relationship skills
  • Organization needs
  • Wins

There are many other factors that could impact the speed at which influence begins to increase. Certainly, the rate of decline can be influenced by many factors as well.

As I consider a J-curve for any leader, it becomes obvious that some leaders make a conscious effort to increase the rate of growth. But it seems that "trying hard" or making the efforts of man to cause an effect, actually hinders the rate of growth.

It's as if the "influence hungry" leader wears a sign around his neck, "How may I influence you today?" Perhaps influence isn't intentional. Maybe influence is organic.

One thing seems certain to me. God gives the increase.

Prayer is the most powerful stimulus in a J-curve.

I do not pray for influence. I pray for grace to change me that I may become a person of influence.


"When they saw the boldness of Peter and John and perceived that they were illiterate and uneducated men, they marveled. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13).


Dr. Steve Greene is the publisher and executive vice president of the media group at Charisma Media and executive producer of the Charisma Podcast Network. His book, Love Leads: The Spiritual Connection Between Your Relationships and Productivity, is now available.

Leaders, Dr. Greene wants to help you understand the spiritual connection between relationships and productivity. Read his new blog, here.

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Dr. Steve Greene is now sharing stories, teachings, and conversations with guests who lead with love on Love Leads, a new podcast. Listen now.

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