Leadership without influence is not really leadership at all.
There does seem to be a huge cluttered mess of principles, values, how-to’s, models, and their opposites found stuck like duct-tape and hyphens in the rapidly expanding cosmics of leadership. Leadership, though a mass money maker and much sought after position, very well could be boiled down to a few bare essentials and elements that support this appetizing infrastructure. So, upon setting your stove element to high and placing leadership in a boiling pot of water, we are left with the leadership nutrient named influence.
Influence has maybe been poorly portrayed by the four p’s of peer pressure, persuasion, and power. Not that it doesn’t take a certain amount of influence to accomplish each of these goals…it is just that they are simply that; goals. Sex is a goal. Money is a goal. Career advancement is a goal. Leadership is a goal. No matter how many goals there happens to be on this dusty little planet, it does take a certain amount of personal influence to achieve those goals. If leadership is a goal then influence is all the hard work that helped you score (cf with above examples).
It is true that we can, on occasion and maybe more often then not, find ourselves in a position of leadership. Positional leadership means nothing; just because you have a title and a role to play does not mean that you are a leader. Without influence leadership is futile, frustrating, and potentially fatal for both the organization and the “leader”. It has been my experience that influence, and its by-product leadership, develops and matures at the same rate as credibility.
Credibility allows for influence. All the letters behind your name, titles under your name, and your name on a list of approved, credentialed, professional societies do not really mean a whole heck of a lot to people who don’t know what the letters mean, hold the titles as suspect authority, and simply don’t care about your professional organization. Credibility beginning in relationship is nurtured in trust and compounds in the slowness of history; this is living life together. Credibility breeds influence.
If we must lead, then we must lead from the depths of credibility and nothing else.