Leading By Influence Vs Authority: Get The Main Difference In 2023


In today’s rapidly changing world, leaders are faced with the challenge of effectively guiding their teams towards success. Traditional leadership styles that rely solely on authority and hierarchy are no longer sufficient in fostering collaboration and innovation. Instead, leaders must adopt a more nuanced approach, one that emphasizes influence over authority. Leading by influence allows leaders to motivate and inspire their teams, creating an environment where individuals are empowered to contribute their unique skills and perspectives. By exploring the differences between leading by influence and authority, we can gain valuable insights into the qualities and behaviors that make a truly effective leader in the modern workplace.

Leading by Influence Leading by Authority
Leadership is based on personal qualities, expertise, and the ability to inspire and motivate others. Leadership is based on the formal power and position within an organization.
Leaders earn respect and followership through their actions, communication, and positive influence on others. Leaders are given authority and followership based on their hierarchical position and the formal power bestowed upon them.
Leaders who lead by influence focus on building relationships, collaboration, and teamwork. Leaders who lead by authority focus on giving instructions, making decisions, and enforcing compliance.
Leading by influence is more effective in situations where creativity, innovation, and adaptability are valued. Leading by authority is more effective in situations where clear direction, structure, and control are necessary.

Leading by Influence Vs Authority

Leading By Influence Vs Authority: In-Depth Comparison Chart

Certainly! Here’s an in-depth comparison table between leading by influence and leading by authority, using proper HTML table markup:


Leading by Influence Leading by Authority
Definition Leadership based on personal qualities, expertise, and ability to inspire and motivate others. Leadership based on formal position or hierarchical authority within an organization.
Source of Power Personal credibility, relationships, expertise, and trust. Positional authority, organizational structure, and formal power.
Focus Building relationships, influencing others, and creating a shared vision. Maintaining order, enforcing rules, and ensuring compliance.
Approach Collaborative, persuasive, and inclusive. Authoritative, directive, and hierarchical.
Effectiveness Highly effective in situations where trust, creativity, and innovation are crucial. Effective in situations that require quick decision-making, clear direction, and accountability.
Long-term Impact Creates a positive work environment, fosters growth, and encourages autonomy. May lead to a more structured and disciplined work culture, but may also stifle creativity and innovation.
Employee Engagement Higher employee engagement due to trust, respect, and a sense of ownership. Employee engagement may vary based on the leader’s ability to inspire and motivate.
Flexibility Offers flexibility in decision-making and adaptability to changing circumstances. May have limited flexibility due to adherence to organizational policies and procedures.


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The table consists of three columns: the first column is left empty for the row headers, while the second and third columns contain the comparison points for leading by influence and leading by authority, respectively.

Please note that the HTML table markup provided is just a skeleton. You can further customize it by adding CSS styles or additional table rows/columns as per your requirements.

Leading by Influence Vs Authority

Leading by Influence Vs Authority

Leading a team or an organization requires effective leadership skills. Two common approaches to leadership are leading by influence and leading by authority. In this article, we will explore the differences between these two approaches and discuss their benefits and drawbacks.

Understanding Leading by Influence

Leading by influence is a leadership style that focuses on earning the respect and trust of team members or subordinates. It involves leading through persuasion, inspiration, and the ability to positively impact others without relying on formal authority.

Leaders who choose to lead by influence often possess strong interpersonal skills, empathy, and the ability to effectively communicate their vision. They inspire others to follow them willingly and create a positive work environment where team members feel motivated and empowered.

Leading by influence requires building relationships and establishing credibility among team members. It involves actively listening, seeking input from others, and promoting collaboration. This approach often leads to better teamwork, increased creativity, and improved problem-solving within the organization.

Exploring Leading by Authority

Leading by authority, on the other hand, relies on formal power and hierarchical structures within an organization. Leaders who adopt this approach have the authority to give orders, make decisions, and enforce policies based on their position or title.

While leading by authority can be effective in certain situations, it may lead to a top-down management style where decisions are made without considering the input or perspectives of team members. This can result in decreased morale, resistance to change, and a lack of innovation within the organization.

However, when used appropriately, leading by authority can provide clear direction, ensure accountability, and maintain order within the team or organization. It is particularly useful in times of crisis or when quick decisions need to be made.

The Benefits of Leading by Influence

Leading by influence has several advantages. Firstly, it allows leaders to build strong relationships with their team members, fostering trust and loyalty. When team members trust their leader, they are more likely to go above and beyond their usual responsibilities and contribute to the overall success of the organization.

Secondly, leading by influence encourages open communication and collaboration. Leaders who value input from their team members create an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions. This leads to better decision-making and the ability to solve complex problems collectively.

Lastly, leading by influence promotes personal and professional growth. By empowering team members and encouraging their development, leaders inspire a sense of ownership and commitment among their team. This not only benefits individual team members but also contributes to the long-term success of the organization.

The Advantages of Leading by Authority

Leading by authority has its own set of advantages. Firstly, it provides clarity and structure within an organization. When leaders make decisions based on their authority, it ensures everyone understands their roles and responsibilities, leading to increased efficiency and productivity.

Secondly, leading by authority can be effective in situations where quick decisions need to be made or in times of crisis. Leaders who have the authority to act decisively can provide guidance and direction to their team, ensuring a coordinated response and minimizing potential damage.

Lastly, leading by authority can establish a sense of order and discipline. In organizations where strict adherence to policies and procedures is necessary, leaders who enforce authority can maintain consistency and ensure everyone follows the established guidelines.

Leading by Influence Vs Authority Pros & Cons

Leading by Influence Vs Authority Pros & Cons

Leading by influence and leading by authority are two different approaches in leadership. Here are the pros and cons of each:

Leading by Influence Pros:

  • Flexibility: Leaders who lead by influence have the flexibility to adapt their approach depending on the situation and the people involved.
  • Empowerment: By leading through influence, leaders empower their team members and encourage them to take ownership of their work.
  • Collaboration: Leading by influence fosters collaboration and teamwork, as it encourages open communication and participation.
  • Trust: When leaders lead by influence, they build trust and credibility among their team members, fostering a positive work environment.

Leading by Influence Cons:

  • Time-consuming: Leading by influence can be time-consuming as it requires building relationships and persuading others to follow your lead.
  • Resistance: Some team members may resist being influenced by a leader, especially if they have conflicting interests or goals.
  • Uncertainty: Leading by influence can be challenging in ambiguous situations where there is no clear authority or decision-making process.

Leading by Authority Pros:

  • Clear direction: Leaders who lead by authority provide clear direction and expectations, ensuring everyone knows what is expected of them.
  • Efficiency: Leading by authority can be more efficient in situations where quick decisions need to be made and executed.
  • Accountability: With clear authority, leaders can hold team members accountable for their actions and performance.
  • Structure: Leading by authority provides a structured framework for decision-making and problem-solving.

Leading by Authority Cons:

  • Lack of creativity: Leading by authority can stifle creativity and innovation as it may discourage team members from taking risks or thinking outside the box.
  • Limited perspective: Leaders who solely rely on authority may miss out on valuable insights and ideas from their team members.
  • Lack of motivation: Team members may feel less motivated and engaged when they are only expected to follow orders without any room for input.

Final Decision: Leading by Influence Vs Authority

After carefully considering the advantages and disadvantages of leading by influence and leading by authority, it is evident that leading by influence is the superior approach. While authority can provide immediate compliance, leading by influence fosters long-term commitment and collaboration among team members.

First and foremost, leading by influence allows leaders to inspire and motivate their team members. By setting a positive example and demonstrating a genuine passion for the work, leaders can inspire their team members to go above and beyond. This creates a sense of shared purpose and cultivates a high level of dedication and commitment within the team.

Furthermore, leading by influence promotes open communication and encourages the sharing of ideas. When team members feel valued and respected, they are more likely to contribute their unique perspectives and expertise. This leads to increased creativity, innovation, and problem-solving capabilities within the team.

Lastly, leading by influence builds trust and strengthens relationships. When leaders prioritize building strong relationships with their team members, they create an environment of trust and mutual respect. This fosters a sense of loyalty and commitment, as team members feel supported and valued by their leader.

Reasons for Choosing Leading by Influence as the Final Winner:

  1. Greater motivation and inspiration for team members
  2. Enhanced creativity and innovation within the team
  3. Stronger relationships and increased trust among team members

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some commonly asked questions about leading by influence vs authority:

1. What is the difference between leading by influence and leading by authority?

Leading by influence and leading by authority are two distinct approaches to leadership. Leading by authority is based on the formal power granted to a person in a position of authority, such as a manager or supervisor. This type of leadership relies on the use of directives, commands, and rules to guide and control others. On the other hand, leading by influence is about inspiring and motivating others to voluntarily follow a leader’s guidance and direction. It is based on personal qualities such as charisma, expertise, and trust.

While leading by authority can be effective for achieving short-term goals and maintaining order, leading by influence often leads to long-term commitment and loyalty from team members. Influence-based leadership relies on building relationships, fostering collaboration, and empowering others to take ownership of their work. It encourages creativity, innovation, and autonomy, resulting in a more engaged and high-performing team.

2. How can one develop their skills in leading by influence?

Developing skills in leading by influence requires a focus on personal growth and building strong relationships with others. Here are some strategies to enhance your influence as a leader:

First, lead by example. Demonstrate the behaviors and values you want to see in your team members. Be authentic, transparent, and consistent in your actions. This will help establish trust and credibility, making others more likely to follow your lead.

Second, listen actively and empathetically. Understand the needs, perspectives, and aspirations of your team members. Show genuine interest in their ideas and concerns, and provide meaningful feedback and support.

Third, cultivate your communication skills. Clearly articulate your vision, goals, and expectations. Tailor your messaging to resonate with different individuals and adapt your communication style to their preferences. Effective communication builds rapport and fosters a sense of belonging.

Lastly, build a network of relationships both within and outside your organization. Connect with colleagues, mentors, and industry experts who can provide guidance and support. Actively contribute to professional communities and seek opportunities to share your knowledge and insights.

3. Can authority and influence be combined in leadership?

Yes, authority and influence can be combined in leadership, and in fact, it is often beneficial to do so. While authority provides the formal power to make decisions and enforce compliance, influence helps leaders gain the voluntary commitment and support of their team members.

By combining authority and influence, leaders can create a balanced and effective leadership style. They can use their positional power to set clear expectations, allocate resources, and resolve conflicts, while also leveraging their influence to inspire and motivate others to go above and beyond what is required.

Leaders who successfully combine authority and influence are able to build trust and respect among their team members, resulting in higher levels of engagement, collaboration, and productivity. They are also more likely to foster a positive work culture where individuals feel valued and empowered.

4. What are the benefits of leading by influence?

Leading by influence offers several benefits for both leaders and their teams:

First, it promotes collaboration and teamwork. When leaders focus on influence, they encourage open communication, active participation, and the exchange of ideas. This creates a positive and supportive work environment where individuals feel empowered to contribute their unique insights and skills.

Second, leading by influence fosters creativity and innovation. By empowering team members to make decisions and take ownership of their work, leaders can tap into the diverse perspectives and expertise within the team. This leads to a more dynamic and adaptive approach to problem-solving and helps drive continuous improvement.

Third, leading by influence builds trust and loyalty. When leaders genuinely care about the well-being and development of their team members, they create a sense of psychological safety and belonging. This encourages individuals to take risks, learn from failures, and strive for excellence.

Lastly, leading by influence promotes personal growth and development. Leaders who focus on influence continuously seek opportunities to enhance their own skills and knowledge. They invest in building relationships, expanding their networks, and staying informed about industry trends. This commitment to growth sets an example for others and helps create a culture of continuous learning.

5. Are there any challenges in leading by influence?

Leading by influence does come with its own set of challenges:

First, because leading by influence is based on personal qualities and relationships, it can take time to establish credibility and trust. Leaders need to consistently demonstrate their expertise, integrity, and commitment to the team’s success to gain the trust and support of their team members.

Second, leading by influence requires a high level of emotional intelligence and empathy. Leaders need to understand and respond to the diverse needs, motivations, and perspectives of their team members. This can be challenging, particularly when leading a large or diverse team.

Third, leading by influence can be more difficult in situations where formal authority is necessary. There may be instances where leaders need to make tough decisions or enforce policies that are not popular among team members. Balancing influence and authority in such situations requires careful navigation and clear communication.

Despite these challenges, leading by influence is often more rewarding and effective in the long run. It promotes a positive work culture, empowers individuals, and drives high levels of engagement and performance.

Influence Without Authority: Leading When You’re Not the Boss

In conclusion, the debate between leading by influence and leading by authority is an important one in the field of leadership. While authority provides a clear hierarchy and structure, influence taps into the power of inspiration and persuasion. Both methods have their merits and can be effective in different situations.

Leaders who rely on authority often have the advantage of formal power and can easily enforce their decisions. However, this approach can sometimes lead to a lack of motivation and creativity among team members, as they may feel obligated to follow orders rather than being empowered to contribute their own ideas.

On the other hand, leading by influence allows leaders to build strong relationships with their team members and inspire them to go above and beyond their assigned tasks. By focusing on developing trust, empathy, and effective communication, leaders can create a positive and collaborative work environment where everyone feels valued and motivated to give their best.

Ultimately, the most effective leaders are those who can strike a balance between authority and influence. They understand when to utilize their formal power and when to rely on their ability to inspire and persuade. By leveraging both approaches, leaders can create a dynamic and high-performing team that is capable of achieving great results.

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