Leading with Influence

Leadership is the process of influencing employees to work toward achieving objectives. Power and politics are also about influencing. There are two age-old leadership questions: “Are leaders born or made?” and “Can leadership skills be developed?” Research shows that leadership skills can be developed. Teaching leadership theories contributes to developing leaders’ skills.

Happiness and success in our personal and professional lives are based on our relationships. Good relationships are based on trust. A survey revealed that 74% of engaged employees trust their manager, while only 14% don’t trust their boss. Would you go above and beyond what is expected (work harder) for a boss you don’t trust? In turn, managers need to be able to trust employees.

People tend to use the terms manager and leader interchangeably. However, they differ. Leading is one of the four management functions (planning, organizing, leading, and controlling). Thus, management gives position power and is broader in scope than leadership, but leadership is critical to management success. A manager can have this position without being a true leader. There are managers—you may know of some—who are not leaders because they do not have the trust and ability to influence others.

There are also good leaders who are not managers. An informal leader, an employee group member, is a case in point. Today, leadership is a serial emergence of both official and unofficial leaders as part of a simultaneous, ongoing, mutual influence process, as in participative leadership. Hence all leadership is shared leadership.
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