Leadership is about influence

Leadership is about Influence


What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a leader? 

Perhaps, someone who is charismatic, attractive, a great speaker, powerful and a magnetic personality or someone with an impressive title such as managing director, president, prime minister or chairman.

Often titles don’t have much value when it comes to leadership.

True leadership is the ability to influence people to think and act in a certain way. Influence has to be earned; it cannot be awarded with a title. When someone is given a title, it buys them time to increase their influence over people in the organisation.

Leadership is often misunderstood. There are many common misunderstandings regarding leadership.

People often confuse leadership and management.


What is the difference? 

Management is about controlling systems and processes whilst leadership is about influencing people. Managers can maintain the direction of an organisation by keeping an eye on the systems and processes to make sure they are working properly. To change the direction of an organisation requires influence.

Entrepreneurs are often thought of as leaders. Some develop into great leaders. They usually see an opportunity and go for it and become successful. Most entrepreneurs are often not good with handling people. Often, they need to partner with someone who is a true leader and can build teams and influence people to move in a certain direction.


What was the difference between Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs of Apple? 

Wozniak was a technical genius whilst Jobs was a true leader who could take the company in a particular direction and transform the way people use computers and phones. Jobs led Apple to be the world’s first trillion dollar company.

Leadership and power are often associated with knowledge. Leadership is not just about knowledge and IQ. For example, you would think that brilliant scientists and philosophers in universities would be great leaders because they have a lot of knowledge. However, neither level of knowledge nor IQ makes a great leader because you need the power to influence to be a leader.

Pioneers or trend setters are often considered to be leaders because they are out in front. To be a leader you have to be in front and people following you and acting on your vision. McDonald brothers had the idea for a fast food restaurant which was hugely successful. They were pioneers but Ray Kroc went to make McDonald’s a worldwide phenomenon with thousands of outlets all over the world.

To determine whether someone is a great leader talk to the followers. They will give you an indication of the leadership qualities of a person. Leaders have a depth of character such as vision, persistence, confidence, honesty and great communication skills.

A leader is easily able to build relations with people – the deeper the connection the greater the potential for leadership. If you build real relationships with the right people in an organisation, then you can become a real leader.

Knowledge and information are needed for a leader to function. You need to have the facts and figures at hand as well as a vision of the future to make decisions. However, knowledge on its own won’t make you a leader, however as a leader you need to do your homework and be prepared. You need to be able to deal with uncertainty and numerous intangibles to be a leader. You need to be able to influence the morale, timing, momentum and energy you need to be a good leader.

It’s important to fail and learn from the experience and build up a bank of experience that you can use when you become a leader. Learning to deal with your own failure and that of your people is a leadership quality.

Track record of success is also important in order to influence people. This gives people confidence that their leader can lead them to victory. If your followers think you can’t take them to victory, then they will stop listening and following you.

The essence of power to influence is getting people to engage. The best training in leadership is to work in a volunteer organisation and get people to follow you. In these organisations you don’t have leverage of position or title. If you can influence these people, then you will be able to lead when you have leverage.


Answer the following questions on your leadership.

  • What misconceptions about leadership have you had in the past?
  • Why have you bought into these?
  • What changes in your thinking need to be made?
  • How can you become more open to improving your leadership?


Rate your leadership qualities on a scale of 1 (very poor) to 10 (outstanding).

  • Character [ ]
  • Relationships [ ]
  • Knowledge [ ]
  • Intuition [ ]
  • Experience [ ]
  • Track record [ ]
  • Ability [ ]

Pick an organisation where you can volunteer to lead such as a school, sports team, charity or community project. Offer you time and energy free to lead an initiative. This will hels you to lead using your influence.


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Posted by ypsociety