Sir Francis Bacon is credited for coining the phrase, “Knowledge is power.” Many in today’s world have latched on to this illusion – get knowledge, knowledge brings power, and with power comes leadership. This is taught in universities and many organizations in the western hemisphere. Yet is it true? I believe that depends on what you consider power. You can find teachers, professors, scientists and other scholars whose knowledge will bury the needle on any educational scale of knowledge, yet these same people would fail to register any movement on a leadership scale.
Knowledge is good and I do not condemn anyone for their knowledge. My point is knowledge and leadership are two varying realities. It is true knowledge may give a person an advantage over others with less knowledge and this knowledge could bring a sense of power. But this power does not bring leadership. It could result in what is considered leadership through a position or a title. Yet, it is not leadership because a title does not one a leader make. Leadership is not found in a title. “True leadership cannot be awarded, appointed, or assigned.” John Maxwell.
Leadership is having the ability to influence others. The influence of a well-rounded leader is bringing others along to accomplish tasks, grow individually and as a team, and to better the organization by reaching its goals. To accomplish these elements requires the ability to inspire others to participate. A person leading by title only cannot achieve this feat. Coercion is not leadership.
You’ve likely heard the statement, He who thinks he leads yet has no one following is not a leader but is only out for a walk. The ability to influence others for the greater good is where leadership begins. If they’d rather listen to someone else in the organization, you are not the true leader.
Learn to build your leadership ability by building your influence with others. Influence is not granted by a position or education. Influence is not something granted by higher-ups. Influence is granted only by those you are attempting to lead. Without their promoting you to leader you remain a pusher or at most a manager.
Become a student of true leadership influencing qualities. Study the leadership lessons of Jesus. Read of great leaders who took mediocre organizations and led them to extraordinary ones. Find a person of successful organizational leadership whom people seem to enjoy following due to his/her ability to help others grow. What makes those men and women persons of influence? Why not speak to those people you are charged with leading – those people in your sphere of influence – asking them what qualities they desire in a leader? Then determine what is your first step to take today in becoming a better leader?