Lead with Influence not Power

Repost from 2010

Leaders often lead with influence while managers often lead with power (Managers can use power because of their title). We should lead with influence and not power. Influence shows others where they should go while power tells them to go there. Ordway Tead says, “Leadership is the activity of influencing people to cooperate toward some goal which they came to find desirable”. If you want to lead others toward a goal you need to influence them in a positive way. If you focus on influencing others instead of using power you will always be a leader.

John Maxwell says, “That leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less”. Influencing others is the key to leadership. This is a great quote to remember because the essential quality of a leader is having and maintaining influence. Leaders are leaders because they have positive influence over others. Leaders who have influence can lead a team of people or company successfully. The legacy of a leader will depend on the influence not the power of a leader. So the aspect of influence in a leader’s life is essential to their success. No matter who you are you can lead with influence if you,

Let go of your pride.
Have and share a compelling vision of the future.
Get to know the people you lead.
Recognize and reward your people.
Have a positive attitude.
Always be growing your leadership lid.
Be a mentor leader.
Connect people to others.
Know and maintain your values and beliefs.

It’s your choice to lead with influence or power. Both leaders and managers should focus on leading by positively influencing others. One of the top priorities a person should have is to lead others through influence. It’s a daily choice to lead with influence and not with power. Influence is a must in order to win at work and in life. Leaders should focus on the above ways to lead with influence and by doing so the leader will lead their followers successfully. So today make the choice to lead others with influence and not by power.

Questions: What are some other ways to lead with influence? How do you lead with influence?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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34 thoughts on “Lead with Influence not Power

  1. Nice post. I keep saying I feel like more of an “influencer” than a “leader.” Now I see that an influencer makes a good leader. An example at work: My direct superior has a choice between recommending one of two positions to be up for hire. I simply created a strong argument for hiring a communication instructor and presented it without bias. The other involved has been trying to use management-style power to get his way. I might add, he has been difficult to work with. Yesterday my proposal was accepted to go up to the next level.

    • What a great example Dan. Thank you so much for sharing it. It sounds like your influence and communication resulted in your favor. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  2. Good one, Dan. People that lead with power don’t stand the test of time. I think with influence comes passion. A person who is passionate about a cause will likely attract others naturally. As opposed to the people who rely on temporary power, they only have power while the people need something from them. That’s the surest way to ruin a goal or business.

    • Great insights Floyd. Influence will always win over leading with power or authority. Passion is a huge characteristic of influence, thank you for bringing that point up. I appreciate your comment.

  3. Dan, I want to add Leading with reckless passion. Its how I lead and its by example, I don’t do anything that I don’t want anyone else to do. I go out and I prove it can be done first. And if I can do it, anyone can do it. So I let my passion flow.

  4. I think this is where old school managers get frustrated with younger employees. The current generation wants to be influenced into getting on board and doesn’t respond the same way to positional power.

  5. Great repost Dan. I like this one “Influence shows others ‘where’ they should go while power tells them to go there.” Influence also shows them ‘why’. People will flow and perform better when they understand the why they are doing something.

  6. PERSONAL power, not POSITIONAL power is what inspires and motivates. And personal power can come from anyone, anywhere in the organization. When someone demonstrates personal power, the results are amazing.

      • I see your distinction, but positional power isn’t something to avoid. Most want to get promoted. It’s not the autocratic, my way or the highway power. It’s just the power that comes with a position. If you’re the boss, you have the positional power that comes with it. At least that’s how I see it…

        • I see what your saying.

          I think it’s how we use the power we have been given. Positional power can be good unless it leads to using our position/authority to hurt or manipulate people. I’m referring more to this type of “power” in this post. However, when I wrote it in 2010 I did not clearly describe that aspect.

          It seems like it would be beneficial to write a follow up post about the positive/beneficial aspects of power. Thank you for the discussion.

  7. Dan, thank you for sharing. Personal power is key. The kind of power that comes in titles is short lived. Revolutions have never cared about titles. The people care about personal power that is given by the people, for the people.

  8. I like John Maxwell’s definition of leadership. However, I prefer to take it a bit further by saying that Leadership is “applied influence.” You can only know if you are leading if others are applying your influence in their lives. Moreover, you are leading when you are applying your influence over others.

  9. Great post, I couldn’t agree more. I just recently read a great leadership book titled “Green Beans & Ice Cream” by Bill Sims, Jr.. The book also talks about positive influences in the workforce and that positive reinforcement is also one of the most powerful forces on the planet.