At the heart of great leadership is influence, as in the ability to influence others to do what needs to get done.
In a piece written for Forbes, Kevin Kruse defines leadership as “a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.” I like his approach because it factors in some important primary leadership elements: (social) influence, others, effort optimization and goals.
Leadership is about influencing others, rather than demanding and coercing. It speaks to the ability to win people over to a new way of thinking and practice, through idea sharing, collaboration and role modeling. It emphasizes persuasion and motivation over coercion.
Influence occurs primarily through emotional connections, such as when we share triumphant or challenging times together. It also develops when leaders routinely demonstrate feelings of appreciation, care, concern, and empathy.