The true measure of leadership is influence—nothing more, nothing less. Dictionary.com defines it as: “The capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others.” The true essence of all power to influence lies in getting others to participate. Without influence, you will never be able to lead others.
Leadership is often misunderstood. Many believe that a big, impressive title makes them a leader but that simply isn’t true. Sometimes the person getting the promotion is a leader. However, true leadership cannot be awarded, appointed, or assigned. It comes only from influence. Many promotions make someone a manager. A manager can maintain direction but often cannot change it. It takes a leader to inspire, rally troops, and have a following to change direction. For that reason, managers and leaders are often two completely different skill sets.
If you ever wonder if you are an effective leader, just look to your left, to your right, and over your shoulder to see if there are any people who support you, come to you for advice, or ask for your opinions. You aren’t a leader if no one is there.