11 Ways Leadership Outlasts Authority


“Hey boss!”

It’s a greeting anyone on our team knows will make me cringe and it’s now become a funny, friendly back and forth that predictably ends with me replying, “You know I don’t like that title.”

The kind of pseudo leadership that depends on a “boss” title is the kind that, while possibly able to create short-term results, won’t create the kind of environment that creates the lasting impact needed to propel the team and its members forward to success.


Authority is not leadership because authority depends on controlling people and leadership depends on believing in people. In short, leadership lasts while authority fizzles. Here are ten reasons why.

Culture outlasts strategy. There is nothing wrong with being a strategic thinker. In fact, great leaders do this very intentionally. What is wrong is expecting success to come from implementing a strategy in isolation. Culture is the invisible glue that holds a teams values and behaviors and strategies alone will never last without careful attention to the culture the strategy lives within.

Humility outlasts ego. Authority is centered on one’s self while leadership is about others. Sacrifice your ego in order to have meaningful impact. In other words, take your responsibility seriously but never yourself.

Commitment outlasts compliance. Do a quick compliancy check. Do your current systems and processes allow for choice? Or do they rely on forced mandates? Giving orders and expecting others to simply follow those orders is one of the quickest paths to mediocrity. Building commitment in others, on the other hand, allows for growth, freedom, creativity, and ultimately empowers people to take the initiative to act.

Inspiration outlasts manipulation. Galvanizing others around a common vision and purpose is one of the hallmarks of great leaders. When you take the time to affect the hearts and get at the why, you won’t have to wield the conspiring sword of command. You’ll find people energized and at the ready to offer their strengths.

Abundance outlasts scarcity. Falling into the trap of a deficit-focused mindset will create a domino effect that puts a low, hard ceiling on a team’s output. When leaders cultivate and model an approach of generosity, others realize the wealth of potential that resides in themselves and others.

Curiosity outlasts furiosity. Inevitably, surprises surface, problems arise, and situations that are unclear present themselves. Connecting unknown dots yourself is a dangerous choice that will undermine trust. Instead of working up a negative story, leaders create a habit of curiosity. Allow yourself to assume positive and meet these circumstances with a sense of wonderment. This creates the room needed for constructive conversations and strong relationships.

Connection outlasts isolation. Connection is about being seen and heard and it’s what humans are made for. We don’t do our best work when aren’t linked to a purpose and others who we can grow and learn alongside. Working in silos not only breeds status quo, it just isn’t very exciting. Leaders see the big picture, listen to and know their people, and find ways to link these together.

Creating outlasts consuming. Taking in content to learn is a good thing, but if this is where it stops, no change will occur. Leaders take it a step further and use their learning to create something new and exciting. As Seth Godin says, “You’re either remarkable or invisible.” Being remarkable requires being courageous enough to create.

Hope outlasts fear. Leaning on authority means creating a sense of power over others and can fead a culture of fear. Being afraid not only inhibits people’s abilities, it can kill a great idea quicker than anything. Leaders not only go first, they paint a clear vision of a better future that builds a sense of hope. With hope, we have the ability and willingness to persevere, knowing we will prevail and be better off in the end.

People outlast policies & programs. Misunderstanding the vital role of people is misunderstanding leadership. Being a leader is all about believing in and doing what is right for the people you serve. While policies and programs have their place, authority uses them for personal power and gain. Servant leaders work to improve lives both inside & outside of work.

Care outlasts control. At the end of the day, authority is about control and leadership is about caring. You can’t lead people you don’t genuinely care for.


You’ll find yourself daily at the crossroads of authority and leadership. One path leads to mediocre, short-term, isolated wins, at best, and a culture of fear and destruction, at worse. The other, the path of true leadership, leads towards a culture of belief that allows for the success of the team and its members. When you find yourself at this crossroads, choose wisely. Others are depending on you.

What aspects of leadership do you know of that outlast authority? Together we are brilliant, so I’d love to connect! Share this post by tweeting and tagging me (@me1odystacy) or feel free to start a conversation by commenting below.

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