I just read this quote: “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” It’s sounds good when you first hear it, but it’s not only completely without merit, it’s also downright dangerous. The quote should say, “One of the MANY keys to successful leadership today is influence.” It bugs me when someone attempts wisdom, and it flies in the face of logic, emotion, and especially reality. If you think a leader can lead with no authority to lead, re-think that immediately.
REALITY: There is no one key to leadership. You need a fat set of keys that includes BOTH authority and influence. And anyone who tells you differently is trying to exert their influence, without an ounce of authority. Here are the elements, totally based on authority, that give real leaders the ability to influence: