Confusing Leadership with Authority and Power

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leadership, authority, power

The word leader conjures certain figures to mind. People like Winston Churchill, George Washington, or Charlemagne often come to mind, but some people might also think of figures like Ivan the Terrible, Saddam Hussein, Stalin, and Hitler. Leadership is a double-edged sword which gives us both the good and the bad.

Or is it? Not according to Rajeev Peshawaria at Forbes.

Leadership is not power

According to Peshawaria, there is no such thing as bad leadership. The problem, he says, is that people mistake authority and power for the things that make someone a leader. Someone being granted authority, whether it’s a country’s president or a middle manager, doesn’t make them a leader. What makes someone a leader is his or her desire to achieve goals, help others, and to create something better than what already exists.

Leadership is not about having or exerting control, nor is it about getting a promotion, or making sure you get your salary increase because of productivity. Leadership is about helping your team, your department, and your people come together to achieve. In short, leadership is not about the leader, but rather it’s about what the leader does, and what that leader helps and inspires.

A unique viewpoint

The question of separating leadership from authority isn’t a new one, but it can be revolutionary in the minds of workers, and those who one day hope to become leaders in their own right. It shows that you don’t need to have a degree, or any real authority, to be a leader. Anyone who is willing to roll up their sleeves and help others band together can become a leader.


Anyone willing to roll up their sleeves and help others band together can become a leader.


This viewpoint is also one that businesses and corporations need to keep in mind. Leaders aren’t made by promoting someone up through the ranks, or offering bonuses for performance; they’re made by helping employees understand how to work together. Just like Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and other great leaders, these people work toward a goal for the benefit of others, rather than for their own personal power or glory.

Leadership is the ability to get others to listen and follow your instructions effectively. A leader is able to convince individuals to listen to them by enforcing powerful speech and actions. A laid-back attitude is not a trait of a leader. You have to be able to take aggressive action in situations where necessary and be firm in your arguments. Having the right attitude as a leader is imperative if you want to be successful.

Self-confidence

What does it mean exactly to have the right attitude as a leader? First of all, you need to have strong self confidence. This includes someone capable of expressing themselves in a manner that exudes power and surety. A leader is able to gauge a situation and then act swiftly on it. Exhibiting confidence means that you are sure of yourself and of your capabilities to take charge. On the other hand, over-confidence will make you come off as conceited and cocky and no one wants a leader with those characteristics.

An approachable attitude

Friendliness is also another trait that every leader should possess. You have to know how to deal with people. The manner in which you deal with others impacts the way they look at you. If you are approachable, people will be more prone to come to you with a problem. People tend to gravitate towards those who have a warm and open personality. So when individuals see this quality in you, they will render you due respect. Additionally, having a positive attitude will help to contribute to the harmony of your team.

A good listener

A good leader also knows the importance of listening to others. In order to communicate effectively, your ability to listen will give you that advantage. Listening not only involves listening to words but showing an interest based on your facial expressions and body language.

Use inclusive language

As a manager, you need to give credit where credit is due. It can be easy to say “I did this” or “I planned this”. But this is not always completely truthful, and it will definitely not help your employees appreciate or respect you. Instead of saying “I” use “we”. Say things like, “We accomplished this amazing project this week“ or “We are all working really hard toward that goal. Keep it up!” When you use inclusive language, it builds a sense of community and helps everyone work together.

Being a great leader instead of a scary dictator isn’t always easy. It is kind of like walking a tightrope, and there might be times when you trip and fall. But, like anything, it is the type of thing that gets better with practice. Having the proper leadership skills ensures that you will be able to execute whatever challenges come your way. A true professional knows the importance of effective leadership and how it can impact those that look up to you to make important decisions.

Take some time to consider how you can become a great leader, and then put it into practice. The results in your workplace will be awesome!

Contact Kinsey Management today!

Ready to implement these lessons in your workplace? Contact Kinsey Management to get started on the road to a better business today!

Confusing Leadership with Authority and Power | Kinsey Management – Houston, TX

Brandon Kinsey

Brandon Kinsey

Brandon’s experience lies in coaching, leadership, team building, and strategic planning. With a social science and leadership background, Brandon has over 19 years of experience coaching individuals and teams. He has a proven track record in driving sales and bottom-line results through relationships, team building and project management execution. Brandon is passionate about empowering leaders with the playbook to uniquely build their teams.

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