“Which of these words describes your leadership: power, authority, persuasion, position, or influence?”

“Nearly all men can stand adversity. But, if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” ​​​​​​Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln had the largest shoe size of any American president so far, size 14. His shoes have been hard to fill. Not because of their size, but because of the size of his personal humility.

When Lincoln was killed at the Ford Theater, he had in his pocket a news clipping of the unrest in the Confederate army. On his very last day on earth, he carried the news of his enemies close to his side. The power of the presidency mattered, but the need for equality mattered much more.

His vision of justice was a cause worth living for. However, it was the cause for which he and many others had to die for instead. As a leader, it is very easy to confuse power, authority, persuasion and influence.

Poor leaders exert power and authority over those who are powerless or fearful to disagree. Great leaders use influence and persuasion that produces admiration, respect and inspiration in those who want to follow them.

Do people want to follow you because of the opportunities you provide for them to grow as a person and improve their skills and talent level? Or, do they have to follow you to maintain their position and paycheck?

Learning to lead by serving through persuasion and influence moves you from being a boss to being a leader. Bosses are weak pseudo-leaders who use power and positional authority to move unwilling and fearful people. Great leaders never forget what it was like not having power and authority. Poor leaders find it hard to remember.

How you are perceived by those following your leadership determines not only the quality and quantity of their efforts, but also their attitude and longevity. Great leaders take responsibility for the energy and engagement of their team. Poor leaders assign blame to those who are powerless to make significant changes.

What words would those following you use to describe your leadership? How do you know? Why not try a blind survey and know for sure?