The Real Truth About Authority, Power, and Position

You don’t need authority, power, or position to lead. Sometimes they get in the way.

Leading is serving, nothing more, nothing else, nothing less.

green leaf

Become a leader by serving. The trappings of leadership follow, they don’t precede, service.  Servant-leaders use authority, power, and position to serve.

Servants serve, but, servant-leaders enable others to serve. That makes all the difference.


  1. Give authority, don’t grasp it.
  2. Reflect praise or credit back on the team.
  3. Reject the trappings of power in order to identify with the team. Connection is more powerful than exclusion. Weak leaders push others away; strong welcome them in.
  4. Place organizational interests ahead of your own. Don’t trust self-serving leaders. They’ll step on you.

You lose power when you use power and gain it when you give it. Clinging to authority diminishes authority, giving it increases it.

Successful leaders know the more authority they have, the more they can give.

Servant-leaders gain power by giving it. Everything else is abomination and manipulation.


Fear prevents service, courage enables it.

  1. Fear of being overlooked invites you to serve yourself rather than others.
  2. Fear of being under-appreciated prevents you from appreciating others.
  3. Fear of being overshadowed causes you to cling to the spotlight.

The gift:

Service is meeting needs. The bigger the needs you meet the greater the leader you become.

People need to feel safe in order to thrive.

Give the gift of safety:

  1. Safe to standout. Leaders who can’t let others standout, strangle organizations. When the fear of jealousy permeates a team, mediocrity sets in.
  2. Safe to screw up. People who can’t screw up can’t excel.
  3. Safe to speak truth to power. Servant-leaders respond to questions and challenges with candor, kindness, and curiosity.

What prevents leaders from meeting the needs of teammates and colleagues?

How can leaders meet needs that allow teammates to thrive?