While leadership theory is a spectrum of interpretations, much of the differing approaches can be broken down into two categories of leadership: power and influence. 

With a heavy emphasis on control, workers who subscribe to power leadership feel they have earned a position of authority and therefore have a right to rule over others. On the flip side of the coin is influence leadership in which the leader feels responsible to have strong character and create room at the table for everyone’s talents. 

The two styles have numerous differences, but the biggest and perhaps only difference that matters is: Power leadership often fails while influence leadership works, according to Forbes

Let’s take a deeper look…

Power Leadership

If you want a disengaged team with low motivation and productivity, then power leadership actually does work. However, if you’re looking to innovate and foster trust in your team dynamics, a power-focused approach will be your downfall. 

Leaders who are power hungry tend to avoid situations that threaten their ability to exercise control. For this reason, power leaders strongly avoid conflict and failure, despite the fact conflict and failure often pave the path to innovation and success. Instead, they surround themselves with like-minded individuals who share the same thought patterns. 

Power leaders tend to be greedy, self-interested, and arrogant. Rather than empowering team members to think creatively and express their talents, power leaders have a way of belittling others. Quick employee turnover is a common symptom of power leadership. 

Influence Leadership

While all leaders have power to some degree, leaders who focus on the power of their relationships have the most influence. If a leader cultivates a team of excited and engaged workers connected to a common purpose, they’re going to want to work harder and sacrifice for the overall goal. The same cannot be said of workers who feel ruled by a tyrant boss. 

An influence leader takes on the role of a mentor. They inspire and challenge team members to think creatively and take risks, while creating an environment that allows for psychological safety. Influence leaders value failure as an opportunity to learn, and see conflict as a catalyst for collaboration and innovation. The idea of not innovating is by far a more daunting thought than the idea of failing. 

Influence leaders aren’t concerned with maintaining their power but instead are interested in establishing relationships with team members by finding common ground, creating space for everyone’s talents, and sharing success. They have high moral character and take initiative to become a better leader by asking for feedback.


Power leaders often lead to their own demise. They are too fixated on their own power to recognize the company’s direction and the role each individual can play in getting there. Taking risks and failing, although unpleasant, is necessary in order to emerge stronger and outlast competitors. 

Influence leaders seek to understand, compromise, and adapt. They may have a messy road to success, but they do in fact cross the finish line. And when they get there, they look around and celebrate with everyone who contributed. 

Which type of leader do you want to be? Knowted wants to help you increase your influence and become the right mentor for your team’s needs. Reach out to us today at info@knowted.co!

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