I’ve mentioned before, I’m always fascinated by what blows up in my Pivot Facebook feed. This article blew the lid off: It’s influence, not authority, that makes a great leader.

It’s unfortunate that social media has stolen the word “influence” to create “influencer,” meaning somebody who pretends to be giving you wise advice when actually they’re making a living getting free stuff from companies which they then use and wear in their YouTube videos – but I digress.

No matter, the base of the word remains true: there is power in being able to influence the behavior, attitude, mood, and/or actions of others. Those who have influence can lead a team through the most difficult of times, and promote a healthy workplace culture that retains the best and brightest.

An “authoritarian” or “authority-based” leadership style – the most common type in our culture for at least 100 years – is now outdated for a dozen reasons, including: its association with abusive or toxic workplace culture; the passing away of post-WWII corporate structures; the digital revolution and its flattening effect on hierarchies; and the rise of Millennials and GenZ, the most diverse generations ever seen in this country. Those generations are not impressed by rules about which people are “more important” since so many of those rules were based on mere seniority – or gender and race privilege.

In every discussion of this subject, you’ll see reference to a constellation of so-called soft skills, which can collectively be referred to as emotional intelligence. The great news is, emotional intelligence is something we can develop within ourselves, with the right tools. Expensive MBAs or PhDs in psychology not necessary (or even useful).