There are a lot of different ways to do leadership. The arena is vast and diverse. Hitler and Mother Teresa are both leaders. Presidents and mothers. Elementary teachers and elementary students.
When the world talks about leadership, we are usually thinking about positional leadership. Titles. Authority placed on us by position. But this is the least effective way to lead. Positional leadership can be an entry point for leaders. It isn’t the only one, but it is the most travelled path.
Leaders who gain a position often think that their journey is done. Our false view of leadership views the position as a reward. We get the perks, we get the power, and we have reached the pedestal and are ready to reap the benefits.
But the journey of leadership begins with the understanding that we have the potential to influence others. Our positions awaken us to this responsibility. It is not the end. It is, often, square one.
We get the job or the corner office or the promotion. Now what? What do we do with what we’ve been allotted? This is the true nature of leadership.
The truest leader is the one who uses the authority given them to influence others toward a productive end. It is important to note here that we do not need a position to influence, to lead. Everyone is a leader.
The most productive leaders move from this idea of gaining positional authority to being a person of influence.
Influence is not easy to achieve. Even with a position, people will rebel, ignore, or placate a person who might be leading but not influencing.
Making The Transition
The transition from leading to influencing at once difficult and simple. But, it is not easy.
The first step is to be the best version of yourself. Not to coerce others, but as an example of the way life should be lived. This is what sets Mother Teresa apart from Hitler. She is still influencing, changing the world today by the power of her testimony. Nothing is more powerful for a budding influencer than a life well lived.
The second step is empowerment. Influencers understand that they cannot control others and that leadership is not about getting others to do what we want. It is about empowering others to realize the mass of potential within us all.
These two steps can move a person from a simple leader (in the way the world defines it) to an influencer. A transformative leader that does much more than just get things done; one that changes lives and inspires cultures.
It isn’t too far away from any of us. It requires some vision, commitment, and intention. We’re all leaders longing to influence. A true perspective and a healthy approach will help us steward our abilities.